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.
I’ve split this post into two parts, as they will need attending to a few weeks apart. First, make the cake using the recipe below, (and 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), Then, after feeding the cake with your choice of tipple over the course of a few weeks, part 2 shows you how to marzipan and ice the cake, just in time for the Christmas festivities.
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!
After the cake has cooled and rested for a day or two, it is pricked all over with a cocktail stick or skewer, then your choice of festive alcohol is poured over to soak into the cake, (or just skip this step if you prefer an alcohol-free cake). I tend to repeat the process three or four times before marzipanning, but it is entirely up to you as to how boozy you like your cake!
So, here’s the recipe, (and make sure you’re following The Veg Space on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or are signed up for e-mail updates so that you don’t miss Part 2 of this post, which explains how to marzipan and decorate the cake).
- 4 tbsp ground/milled chia or flax seeds
- 225 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 225ml 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 marzipanning and icing the cake, see my post 'The Ultimate Vegan Christmas Cake: Part 2' (coming soon).
Hop over to Part 2 of this post – decorating the cake.
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