Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas Cake - gluten free (with the help of Delicious Alchemy Christmas Fruit Cake Mix)

I made Christmas Cake (With the help of Delicious Alchemy's Christmas Fruit Cake Mix). Doesn't it look fab?

I will be honest, I am generally one of those people who can take or leave Christmas Cake. I don't go out of my way to make it because it always seems to be the last thing to be eaten and is hanging around the house for weeks after the big event.

Sure..... when I have a piece, I do mostly enjoy eating it, but it's not something that I regularly bake as I would rather put my time credits into making other (chocolatey) stuff. So when Delicious Alchemy asked whether I would like to try their new, limited edition Christmas Fruit Cake Mix it looked like a 'win-win'. It took the drama out of having to plan and source a recipe and at the end of it I would get Christmas Cake without any faff....

Before going gluten free, Christmas Cake was mostly something we got gifted in left-over slab form and usually from parents who are now of a generation that weren't too adventurous with deviating from tradition. That meant that the cake was (without exception) slathered with hard, tooth-breaking sharp-peaks of royal icing and a sandwiched layer of slightly bitter shop-bought marzipan.

I am afraid my cake may be looked on with disappointment and scorn by the 'elderlies' (as Miss GF calls them)........ 'Red and Green fondant Icing? Really?? But that looks nothing like snow' I can hear them mumble.....

Grumble they may..... but now I have made my cakes, I LOVE them! You will see that I say 'them' rather than 'it'..... I figured that if any was left over and going to get 'gifted' at the end of Christmas, then it might as well be in real present form (although to be honest, this cake is so delicious, I may hog it all to myself). Either way, no offerings of slab-cake from me. I have gone for cutting one large cake into four smaller squares before decorating, to make them not only more interesting, but also to preserve freshness and make for good sharing too!

I also made my own marzipan from the simplest recipe on the planet. Originally it came from Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than, but I have also used it before with great success in my amazing gluten free Battenberg Cake (goodness that cake was good!).

This marzipan is way better than the slightly acrid shop-bought stuff. It is soft, sweet, perfectly almondy and very very moreish. If you make it, ensure you make plenty extra as you will want to rip off chunks to munch all on its own. I have saved a big block to cut and coat in chocolate as an extra special Christmas treat.

And the fruity sponge centrepiece? Well..... I have tried and tested many Delicious Alchemy products before now (you can see some of the recipes here, here, here and here), but this Christmas Cake (in my humble opinion) is one of their best.

I will be honest that when I read the list of ingredients, I was a little disappointed that the fruit was limited to raisins, dates and sultanas and that there weren't any cherries in there. On the other hand, I have a predictable habit of treating packet mixes as a base to build on, so decided to take what looked like a fantastic foundation and build on it with all the extra bits I thought I might miss if they weren't in each Christmassy bite.

A quick rummage and I found some glace cherries, Iranian pistachios and slivered almonds left over from a batch of Christmas Extra Fruity Mincemeat that I had just made....... threw in a handful of each (which did not affect the consistency of the base-mix at all) and hey presto...... Cake done!

The texture and flavour of the sponge is really really good..... This mix  is a real find for us gluten-avoiders. It is rich and beautifully spiced, soft yet fruity, wonderfully moist, perfectly seasonal and very VERY easy to make.

You have the choice of feeding your cake with either alcohol or juice as with any other traditional Christmas cake and I can vouch for the fact that it matures beautifully when left for a few days...... becoming more and more succulent and delicious. Being a seasonal enjoyer of the strong stuff, I fed my cake with Calvados (apple brandy) which is one of my favourite Christmas tipples, but you can use whatever you fancy..... whisky, brandy, Cointreau..... feel free to experiment. I confess I did up the quantity of alcohol in my cakes (but kept one fed with juice only for my daughter), feeding it twice over a period of a couple of days. The sponge seemed quite happy with an extra alcoholic drenching (I think it thought Christmas and Birthday had arrived at the same time), and it did add an extra seasonal punch.

You will see that I only have three cakes in red and green icing........ The fourth was passed to my daughter to do as she wished..... I'm well-impressed! Way better than mine...... I think she may have quite a flair on the creative cake side!

It still isn't too late to get your hands on (or bake) a Delicious Alchemy Christmas Cake.... And they are giving free delivery until 31.12.15.... just quote XMAS15 (UK mainland only) at the checkout!

I am sharing my little Christmas cakes with the following foodie link-ups :

Treat Petite with Cakeyboi (and The Baking Explorer) who's Christmassy theme is Red & Green.

Alphabakes with Caroline Makes (and The More Than Occasional Baker). December's letter is 'N'.... Christmas cake simply wouldn't be right without nuts in there so I threw in a handful each of Iranian Pistachios and Slivered Almonds for good measure.

Love Cake with Ness at Jibber Jabber who's theme this month is Festive Fun.

The No Waste Food Challenge with Jen's Food (guest hosting this month for Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary). This cake uses left-over nuts and cherries as well as the last bit of the bottle of Calvados (shucks.... I'll have to go buy another one!).

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

Simply Eggcellent with the lovely Dom at Belleau Kitchen. Anything goes this month with his eggy themed linky-party. Eggs are one of the things you do need to add to this mix..... 2 large free range ones!

Cook Once Eat Twice with Corina at Searching For Spice. Christmas Cake is one bake you really do get your money's worth from.... Because you only tend to eat a little slice at a time and it keeps so well, it seems to last forever (well.... almost..... although I challenge you to hang onto any of this one beyond Christmas as it is sooooo good).

The Food Year Link-Up with Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.

Cook Blog Share with Sneaky Veg.

Christmas Cake (with the help of a Delicious Alchemy Christmas Fruit Cake Mix) Makes 1x 7 inch/18cm or 4x 3½ inch/9 cm cakes


1 x Delicious Alchemy Christmas Fruit Cake Mix
110g unsalted butter (room temperature) or dairy free alternative
zest 1 large orange - finely grated
120 ml Calvados (or other brandy/alcohol of choice) or orange/apple juice
2 large eggs
handful glace cherries (optional)
handful chopped Iranian pistachios (optional)
handful slivered almonds (optional)

225g ground almonds
225g icing sugar - sifted
1 large egg - beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract

approx 3 tablespoons apricot jam
2 teaspoons Vodka or Gin (or water)

Ready to Roll fondant icing - colour of choice


  1. Cake : Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2. Line the base and sides of a 7 inch/18 cm baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, zest and 45 ml brandy/juice.
  3. Whisk the eggs separately and then add to the butter with the dry cake mix, glace cherries, and nuts (if using).
  4. Beat together for 2½ minutes, until the mix comes together and is well-combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Once cooked, leave in the tin and cool for about 20 minutes, before making a number of holes across the top with a skewer. Carefully pour over or use a syringe to insert about half of the remaining brandy/juice into the cake.
  7. Once absorbed, remove the cake from the tin (baking paper still intact) and wrap the whole thing in foil. Leave for 24 to 48 hours, before opening and pouring on/syringing the remaining brandy/juice into the cake. Seal in foil again and leave until ready to ice.
  8. When ready to decorate, make the Marzipan : In a large bowl, weigh and stir together the almonds and sifted icing sugar. 
  9. Add the almond extract and beaten egg and stir to combine with a flat knife until the whole mix comes together to form a dough.
  10. Knead for a couple of minutes until completely even and then wrap in cling film until ready to use.
  11. Unwrap the cake and if you are making smaller cakes, use a very sharp knife to quarter the large cake ready to decorate. Place on your chosen serving boards. 
  12. Warm the apricot jam until runny (add a little water if too thick) and then brush over the top and sides of the cakes completely.
  13. Quarter the marzipan (if making smaller cakes or use the whole block if making a larger cake) and roll out one piece to a size that will completely cover the cake down to the board. Carefully lay over the cake and gently ease inwards to fully and tightly cover the sponge. Trim the marzipan at the base of the cake. Repeat the process for each cake.
  14. Size and roll out the fondant icing by the same process. Brush the marzipan with Gin/Vodka (or water), before covering with fondant icing and smoothing down the sides with an icing smoother or palette knife. Trim at the base of the cake. 
  15. Decorate as you wish.
With thanks to the Delicious Alchemy team for sending me the cake mix to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all views expressed here are my own.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-15 unless otherwise indicated


  1. These look absolutely gorgeous and I love the one your daughter has done too - so impressive! Thanks for linking up with #CookBlogShare this week

  2. These look absolutely gorgeous and I love the one your daughter has done too - so impressive! Thanks for linking up with #CookBlogShare this week

  3. I love how you've made it into 4 cakes and let your daughter decorate one too! My little girl loves decorating cakes as well. I also like the non-traditional fondant decoration but still with the marzipan underneath. I'm afraid i probably won't make my own marzipan but I am planning on a non-traditional chocolate coating on top instead of royal icing this year! Thank you so much for linking up with #CookOnceEatTwice.

    1. Thanks Corina. I definitely think I would go for the smaller cake approach in the future too.... Just makes sense for sharing and freshness! Chocolate Christmas Cake sounds good to me..... Maybe next year......

  4. These look gorgeous you clever lady! And clever daughter too!!! I made my Christmas cake about a month ago and have been feeding it with copious amounts of amaretto ever since. On the low FODMAP diet that I am currently on I can't eat dried fruit, but there is no way I am missing out on a slice of it...last year it was amazing!! I may have to make that marzipan though...and I might just have to copy your idea for decoration too..although the kids might have something to say about that since they usually do the decorating!!

    1. Thank you Vicki. I LOVE Amaretto...... The idea of a cake soaked through with the stuff sounds divine! I wouldn't miss out on that either..... FODMAP or not!
      The marzipan is so so simple.... And really really good..... Let me know if you try it!

  5. The cake looks delicious and I love how you have decorated them. They are like yummy little parcels. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

    1. Thanks Kirsty. The decoration was really simple (I am definitely not good at anything that requires any patience or skill)!

  6. these are so adorable! and so clever. Love the decorations. So pretty, thank you so much for linking to Simply Eggcellent x

  7. I got a Delicious Alchemy brownie mix in my Degustabox a few months ago and we all really enjoyed it. I'd definitely choose their mixes again if I needed to do some GF baking as I use regular flour so often in my kitchen I'd worry about cross-contamination of all the open packets in the cupboard - the cake mixes take all that risk away making me much more comfortable using them.

    I completely agree with you about fruit cake v chocolate cake. I'd go for chocolate every time, buttery family love fruit cake and it wouldn't be Christmas without it really.

    You're right about your daughter's talent for cake decorating, her snowman cake is really cute.

    1. I hadn't really considered the benefits of packet GF mix for gluten-eaters, but you are absolutely right.... They would definitely be safer on the cross-contamination front in a larder as well as taking all the pain out of working out a different recipe.
      As for my daughter's cake decorating...... She has forcefully told me that she is not following in my footsteps, but is making her own path!

  8. I love fruitcake when done well because it is so rich but I am not good at keeping cakes for ages so it does not suit me. Your comment about the elderlies not liking the red and green icing made me laugh because that is exactly what my mum would say - she is so into tradition sometimes! Love Miss GF's cake - you have a fine apprentice in your kitchen who is obviously learning from your creative talents

    1. Ha ha! Older people are the same the world over! That's reassuring!
      Miss GF is very proud of her cake.... but is very clear that she has her own talents and it is NOTHING to do with me!!!!

  9. Wow the decoration is fabulous and so festive! Also what a great way to make a quick Christmas cake without all the advance planning.

    1. Thanks Kat. They are pretty funky! And the mix was really very straight forward and came out great!

  10. Now that's a gift we'd all like to receive! Lovely decoration.

  11. These are so festive Kate and that cake mix looks very useful indeed - if you need gluten free or not! Thanks for entering into Treat Petite and Merry Christmas.

    1. Thanks Stuart. You're welcome. And thanks for inspiring my festive decoration!
      Have a great Christmas x

  12. What fabulous looking cakes. I love everything about Christmas cake from the fruit and nut mix to the marzipan and fondant covering. I think anyone would be thrilled to receive one of these cakes.

    1. Thanks Ness. These ones were pretty good..... I think I would be happy to receive one too!

  13. This is really pretty, looks so festive. Very good this cake mix.

  14. I have a gluten intolerant work colleague so I've used Delicious Alchemy cookie mixes before, I didn't know they did a Christmas cake one - I love the way you and your daughter have decorated them! Thanks for sharing with Alphabakes.

    1. Thank you Caroline. The Christmas Cake mix is a special edition I think, but definitely a good one!


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