This rich, moist and boozy fruit cake has to be the ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake - so simple to make and incredibly tasty.
Christmas is a time of year when vegans can face pitying looks for not being able to 'join in' with so many traditional foods of the season. But with just the smallest of tweaks, much festive fayre can easily be made vegan, and this traditional rich, moist fruit cake is a perfect example.
Don't be put off by the long cooking time - this is one of the easiest fruit cakes I've made, and the 'hands on' time is actually fairly minimal. After feeding the cake with your choice of tipple over the course of a few weeks, step-by-step photos show you how to marzipan and ice the cake, just in time for the Christmas festivities.
Here's a quick how-to video which will show you the basics of what's involved:
This recipe is based on my Mum's top secret fruit cake recipe, which is easily the best fruit cake I've tried and has the benefit of being both simple to make and incredibly moist, with a lovely rich, fruity flavour. I've made it Christmassy with a few festive additions, (black treacle, glacé cherries, and your choice of brandy, sherry or amaretto), and made it vegan simply by using dairy-free margarine in place of butter, and substituting a chia or flax seed mix in place of eggs. Don't panic if you haven't used this substitution before, it is incredibly easy.
There's no need for fancy kitchen gadgets here - the cake mixture is made entirely in a saucepan, then poured straight into the baking tin. Make sure you use your biggest saucepan - when you add the bicarbonate of soda the mixture fizzes up quite a bit, and could cause some serious spillage in a small saucepan!
Decorating your Christmas Cake
Here are some step-by-step instructions for finishing off your cake, which ideally should mature for at least a few weeks before you start marzipanning and icing.
Of course the way you decorate your cake is entirely up to you - why not browse Pinterest for some festive ideas?
I usually go for plain white icing with fresh greenery and holly on top, but this year have tried something a little different with a pale blue snow scene, which is easy to do and looks quite striking.
For the decorating stages, you will need:
- Your choice of alcohol (brandy, sherry or amaretto - check they are vegan) - or skip this step for a non-alcoholic cake.
- apricot jam
- icing sugar for dusting
- 1kg ready-to roll marzipan (check it is vegan)
- 1kg ready-to-roll sugarpaste (check it is vegan)
- blue food colouring
- white writing icing (check it is vegan)
How to Feed your Vegan Christamas Cake with alcohol
Feeding the cake with your tipple of choice is a great way both to keep it very moist, and to add lots of festive flavour. Brandy, sherry or amaretto all work well, (just check that they are vegan) - I've used amaretto this year.
- Prick the cake all over with a cocktail stick or skewer - the holes should be just a few centimetres apart.
- Drizzle a few tablespoons of your chosen alcohol over the top of the cake, so that it trickles into all the holes.
- Repeat the process every few days or weekly until you decide to marzipan and ice the cake.
How to cover your Vegan Christmas Cake with Marzipan
4. Use a piece of string or tape measure to measure the cake up one side, along the top and down the other side.
5. On a surface dusted in icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to a large square just a little bigger than your cake measurement, so that it will drape over the whole cake in one piece.
6. Heat 2-3 tbsp apricot jam in a small bowl in the microwave (or a small saucepan), and use a pastry brush to brush it all over the top and sides of the cake. This will act like a glue to stick the marzipan in place.
7. Pick up the marzipan, (draping it over your rolling pin makes this easier), and place it on the cake, smoothing down the top. Trim off any excess at the corners with a sharp knife, and smooth down to create fairly sharp corners. You can buy a plastic smoothing tool (see picture below) for a few pounds which makes this job a lot easier, otherwise just use your hands to smooth the marzipan.
How to cover your Christmas Cake with icing
8. Cut off a chunk of about a quarter of the sugarpaste and set aside - this will remain white. Add a few drops of blue colouring to the remaining three quarters and knead well until it is evenly distributed and a solid colour.
9. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the blue sugarpaste to the same cake measurement as you did the marzipan. Brush the marzipan all over with a little of the alcohol you used to feed the cake (or water), which will help the icing to stick.
10. Pick up the icing, draping it over your rolling pin as before, and smooth it over the top of the marzipan. Trim the corners with a sharp knife and use your hands or a smoothing tool to give it a smooth and neat finish all over.
How to Decorate your Vegan Christmas Cake
11. Use a piece of string or tape measure to measure right around the edge of the cake. Take the white sugarpaste, and roll it into a very long, thin sausage shape roughly the same length. Use your rolling pin to roll the sausage flat into a strip about 3cm wide. If you run out of space, you can cut it in half and smooth down the join when you stick the two pieces to the cake.
12. Use a sharp knife to trim one of the long edges so that it is as straight as possible, then cut the other long edge into a zig-zag pattern to look like snow-capped mountains.
13. Brush one side of the icing with a little water, then carefully stick it around the base of the cake. Don't panic if the icing breaks - just use a little water to smooth it back together.
14. Finally, use the writing icing with a fine nozzle to pipe dots in a random pattern all over the sides of the cake, patting each one with your finger just after piping it to smooth down any spikes.
And voilà, your vegan Christmas cake is complete! It will store for weeks in an airtight tin, ready for cutting for tea on Christmas Day.
Of course, if you're not a boozy fruit cake kinda person, you might prefer to take a look at these recipes from blogging friends....
- Chloe's Vegan Gingerbread Men from Baked by Clo
- Kate's Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Ginger Frosting from Veggie Desserts
- Rhian's Gluten Free Vegan Gingerbread Loaf Cake from Rhian's Recipes
- Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with cinnamon icing
- Ultimate Vegan Mince Pies with 'cream cheese' pastry
- Vegan Chocolate Yule Log
- Jammy Christmas Star Biscuits
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
"Brilliant! Chock full of easy recipes and great tips and advice" Hello! Magazine
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "I love this recipe and it’s been my ‘go to’ fruit cake recipe for a couple of years now. There’s no need to wait for Christmas!" Helen
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "This cake recipe is great. Instructions are well written and easy to follow. All the ingredients can be purchased in a UK supermarket. Lovely and moist and not sickly sweet, this cake is just right. Highly recommended." Debbie
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Very impressed with the recipe and the fact it uses commonly used ingredients." Emma
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Just want to congratulate you on an awesome vegan cake recipe! My son is allergic to milk and missed out on proper Christmas cake last year. I tried 3 or 4 recipes, but this is the best! Not crumbly, at all, lovely flavour. I made this for his School Christmas fair and it worked perfectly. i got several comments on how great this was. I know I will be making this for years to come." Louise
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The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake
- 2 tbsp ground/milled chia or flax seeds
- 110 ml water
- 800 g mixed fruit (or your own mix of currants, raisins, chopped figs, chopped dates or chopped prunes plus a few tablespoons mixed peel)
- 200 g natural glacé cherries
- 175 g light brown sugar
- 50 g black treacle
- 340 g dairy-free margarine
- 500 ml water
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 225 g wholemeal self-raising flour (or plain wholemeal flour plus 3 tsp baking powder)
- 4-6 tbsp brandy, amaretto or sherry (check it is vegan)
- 4 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 kg ready-made marzipan
- 1 kg ready-made sugarpaste
- Mix the chia or flax seeds with the 110ml water, and place in the fridge.
- Take a very large saucepan and tip in the mixed fruit, glacé cherries, light brown sugar, black treacle, dairy-free margarine and 500ml water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- When cooking time is up, carefully stir through the bicarbonate of soda, (the mixture will fizz and rise up the sides of the saucepan so make sure there is enough room to prevent spillages!). Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
- Whist you are waiting for it to cool, grease a 22cm round or square baking tin, and line it with a double layer of baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F / gas mark 3.
- When the mixture is cool, stir in the chia or flax seed mixture, (which should have turned very gloopy), and both types of flour. Mix well so that no lumps of flour remain.
- Tip the mixture into your lined baking tin. Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven down to 130°C (fan) / 275°F / Gas Mark 1 and bake for a further 45-55 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin. To store until needed, wrap in a layer of baking parchment then a layer of foil and keep in an airtight tin or container.
- A few days before marzipanning, feed the cake with brandy, amaretto or sherry by pricking all over with a cocktail stick then pouring over 4-6 tbsp of your chosen tipple. You can repeat this process three or four times for a boozier cake.
- For instructions on covering the cake with marzipan and icing, see step-by-step photos in the post above.