By/ Last Modified On August 28, 2023
Gluten-Free Fruit Cake is a tasty, festive treat to bake at Christmas or any time of the year!
This gluten-free fruit cake is moist and tender, loaded with dried fruits, nuts, and sweet spices.
We'll show you how to make this quick bread weeks ahead of time, and keep it fresh and tasty while it ages, just like a traditional fruit cake.
GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE RECIPE
Whether you love it or not, fruit cake is a long-standing holiday tradition that is here to stay. It may look complicated, but it's actually very simple to bake a gluten-free fruitcake, and it will taste just like you remember.
IS CHRISTMAS CAKE THE SAME AS FRUIT CAKE?
Yes, these two terms are fairly interchangeable. Christmas Cake is a fruit cake that is usually baked in a cake pan to create a round shape. Sometimes the cake is covered with icing before serving. Different countries and cultures have different traditions surrounding fruit cakes made for Christmas, so there are many variations of this recipe available.
Don't confuse fruit cake with Christmas pudding though. That is a much different type of English holiday dessert that is cooked with steam.
Fruit cakes are made generally a few weeks before Christmas so that they have time to mature before they are enjoyed on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.
Make sure you check out all of our Gluten Free Christmas Cookie Recipes too!
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE
Traditional Flavors: Dried Fruits, heady liquors, and warm spices combine to make this gluten-free fruit cake as delicious and flavorful as the fruit cakes that have been made for centuries.
Options: You can make a gluten-free fruit cake that is alcohol-free, egg-free, or nut-free too! We'll share options in the recipe so that you can make whatever adjustments you need to.
Easy Recipe: Everything is mixed together in one large saucepan, so the recipe couldn't be any more simple! This fruitcake recipe is also very forgiving, so I know that yours will come out perfectly.
INGREDIENTS IN GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE
Unsalted Butter: Butter gets this Christmas cake started! It will be melted, so you can start with either cold or room-temperature butter. For a dairy-free fruit cake, use vegan butter or coconut oil in place of the butter.
Brown Sugar: The rich flavor of light brown sugar is exactly what we need for this sweet fruit cake.
Dried Fruit: You can use any combination of dried dates, cranberries, raisins, apricots, or others that you like. Be sure that any large fruits are chopped into small pieces.
Candied Cherries: Sometimes called glacé cherries, these are similar to jarred maraschino cherries but drier. Look for them in the produce section, or the baking section near the holidays.
Orange: Get one large orange. We'll use the zest and the juice to make our gluten-free fruit cake. You don't need to be too precise, but you should end up with 2-3 tablespoons of zest and ¼ cup of juice.
Cherry Brandy: For a classic old-fashioned flavor, cherry brandy is the ideal liquid to use to soak the dried fruit for our cake. For an alcohol-free version, use additional orange juice, or see my other suggestions below.
Eggs: You need three whole eggs to make this dense fruit cake. The eggs help to hold it all together once it's baked. If you'd like to make this recipe egg-free, use an egg replacer, or chia eggs instead.
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour - This recipe, like many of our baking recipes, is designed to be made with your favorite gluten-free flour blend. You can use one of our homemade flour blends, or try this with Bob's Red Mill 1:1, in the blue bag. To the flour, we will add baking powder to help the fruit cake rise. You will also want to add Xanthan gum, but only if your flour blend doesn't already include some.
Cinnamon, Allspice, and (optionally) Cocoa Powder - Cinnamon and allspice are key to giving us the perfect spice cake flavor. Cocoa powder is optional, but adding it gives the flavor more depth, and it makes the cake a darker color.
Nuts - to finish the gluten-free fruit cake batter, we'll fold in chopped nuts. You can decide which type of nuts you want to include, but let me suggest pecans, walnuts, or almonds. You can also skip the nuts if you'd prefer to make a nut-free fruit cake.
If you have any questions about making gluten-free fruit cake, please leave a comment and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
HOW TO MAKE A GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE
- Add butter, brown sugar, dried fruit, cherries, the zest and juice from the orange, and brandy to a large saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to plump up the dried fruit. After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside to cool. While it's cooling, preheat the oven to 300°F, and grease a loaf pan.
- After the fruit mixture is cooled, mix in the eggs. Then add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and cocoa powder and xanthan gum if you're using them. Stir well to combine. You should have a thick batter now.
- Add in the chopped nuts.
- Use a spatula to fold the nuts gently into the batter.
- Transfer the fruit cake batter to the prepared loaf pan, and bake for 70 minutes (yes, an hour and ten minutes!) or until fully cooked. If the top of the cake is browning too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan, or let it cool slightly and remove it from the pan if you prefer. While the cake is still warm, brush the top and sides with rum, brandy, or any sweet liquid. Let the cake cool completely, and wrap well with plastic wrap.
- Store your gluten-free fruit cake at room temperature for up to 8 weeks. For best results, unwrap and brush again with liquid every week until it's time to eat.
The numbered photos above are for illustration purposes. For the full list of ingredients and instructions for making the best gluten-free fruit cake, please see the recipe below.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEED A FRUIT CAKE?
Some bakers refer to the process of adding brandy or rum to the cake every week as "feeding" it. The purpose of this step is to impart moisture to the cake, but it also acts as a preservative. If properly fed using alcohol, a fruit cake can last for many, many weeks.
HOW CAN I MAKE GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE WITHOUT ALCOHOL?
While brandy, rum, or sherry are traditional ingredients in fruit cake, there's no reason that you can't omit them.
Instead of alcohol, you can use fruit juice (orange, cranberry, grape) or simple syrup. You can buy simple syrup at the grocery store near the drink mixers, or make your own by simmering 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar until it's fully dissolved.
Keep in mind that the addition of alcohol is traditionally what keeps fruitcakes fresh and edible for a very long time. If you use another liquid, the cake may not stay fresh quite as long.
CAN I MAKE GLUTEN-FREE FRUIT CAKE WITHOUT EGGS?
You can replace the eggs in this recipe with an egg replacer or chia eggs instead.
IS THIS A DARK FRUIT CAKE OR A LIGHT FRUIT CAKE?
Yep, there is more than one way to make a fruit cake! This recipe is an old-fashioned, dark fruit cake, although it could be darker if you wanted to add some molasses or extra cocoa powder to the batter. Light fruit cake, also called white fruit cake, has a lighter color, lighter flavor, and lighter texture than this one.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups mixed dried fruit (dates, dried cranberries, raisins, etc)
- ¼ cup candied cherries (glacé cherries), chopped
- Zest and juice from one large orange
- ½ cup cherry brandy (or you can use orange juice, cranberry juice, water, or other brandy, rum, or sherry)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if the flour contains it already)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional for color)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ cup chopped nuts of choice (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc)
- 2-3 tablespoons of rum, brandy, simple syrup, ginger syrup, etc. for brushing on the fruit cake after baking
- In a large saucepan add the butter, brown sugar, mixed dried fruit, candied cherries, the juice and zest from one orange, and the brandy (or liquid of choice).
- Cook on medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the fruit mixture cool for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF/150°C. Grease a loaf pan (9x5-inch) and set aside.
- Add the eggs to the already cooled fruit mixture and stir until well combined. You can mix the batter right in the saucepan, or transfer it to a larger bowl if needed.
- Add the flour, xanthan gum (if using), cocoa powder (if using), baking powder, ground cinnamon, and allspice to the mixture. Give it a good mix until everything is combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.
- Bake for 70 minutes until the cake is dark brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much.
- Remove the cake from the oven. The fruitcake can remain in its pan for storage. Alternatively, you can let it rest for 10 minutes and then carefully remove it from the pan.
- Brush the warm cake with rum or brandy or simple syrup (alcohol-free version).
- When the cake is completely cool, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature for 6-8 weeks. For a super moist fruit cake, you can brush it with 1-2 tablespoons of liquid of choice every 1-2 weeks.
- A tablespoon of cocoa powder is optional but will give your fruitcake a darker color and a richer flavor.
- You can use most all-purpose gluten-free flour blends to make this recipe. We suggest a blend that is made with a base of rice flour, such as Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour, or our gluten-free flour blends. Be sure to add Xanthan gum only if your flour doesn't already include it.
- Yes, you really can store this cake for up to 2 months! Just be sure to keep it wrapped well.
- It's traditional to bake fruit cakes a month or more before Christmas so that they have time to mature.
- To make an alcohol-free fruit cake, substitute the brandy at the beginning of the recipe with fruit juice or water. Instead of brushing the finished cake with alcohol, use simple syrup. When "feeding" the cake during storage, choose fresh fruit juice or water.
- Keep in mind that the addition of alcohol is traditionally what keeps fruitcakes fresh and edible for a very long time. If you use another liquid, the cake may not stay fresh quite as long.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 139mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 5gSugar: 67gProtein: 6g
This nutrition info is based on the exact ingredients and brands that I used a the time. It may not be 100% accurate. Please check your ingredients nutrition labels.