Phil Vickery's rich fruit Christmas cake

I actually prefer this gluten-free version of Christmas cake to the regular kind, writes Phil Vickery. The texture is just the same, if not better, and it's delicious! It's best to soak the fruit in the whisky and lemon juice overnight; it makes a real difference to the texture of the cake
Christmas cakeChristmas cake

Makes: one 18 cm round or square cake

Preparation: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking time

Cooking: 1½–2 hours


For the cake

  • 75g currants
  • 75g sultanas
  • 350g raisins
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 150ml whisky
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling
  • 150g Gluten-Free Flour Mix B (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (check Coeliac UK's Food and Drink Directory)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, at room temperature
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk
  • 50g whole almonds
  • 100g natural-coloured glacé cherries, halved and washed
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 1 tablespoon clear honey

For the top

  • 2 tablespoons smooth apricot jam, warmed
  • 100g mixed glacé fruits; eg red or green cherries, ginger, melon or pineapple
  • 50g nuts eg almonds, walnuts, pecan halves


  • Place the dried fruit and mixed peel in a pan, add the whisky and lemon juice and zest, and bring up to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, cover and leave to soak overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Oil and line the base and sides of a 6-8cm deep round or square 18cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, including a tall collar sticking up.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and spices together. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Gradually add the eggs and flour, alternately, and then add the ground almonds. Stir in the milk and mix in the dried fruit mixture, almonds and cherries. Finally stir in the treacle and honey and give the whole cake mix a thoroughly good stir.
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin, level, and bake for about 1½–2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
  • To decorate, brush the surface of the cake with half the warmed jam. Arrange, or pile, a selection of glacé fruits and nuts over the top and brush over a second layer of jam to glaze. Now all you need is a big bow to put round the sides!

Fancy a traditional topping?

I like the glace fruit and nut topping as it’s so quick and easy! But if you prefer you can decorate it in the traditional way with a layer of marzipan topped with white icing of your choice.

To store: The undecorated cake will keep for up to 1 month, tightly wrapped in foil and in an airtight container.

To freeze: When cold, remove it from the tin, wrap the undecorated cake in greaseproof paper and two thick layers of foil and freeze in an airtight container. Defrost for 3–4 hours and when defrosted decorate as above.

Gluten-free Flour Mix B

Makes: 1kg

Preparation: 5 minutes

  • 300g fine polenta or chestnut flour
  • 500g brown rice flour
  • 200g cornflour
  • Mix all the flours together very thoroughly or put into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Baking

Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Baking

Michelin-starred TV chef, Phil Vickery has created over 70 simple, failsafe recipes for everything from cupcakes and traybakes, to muffins, breads and pastry. In association with Coeliac UK. Photography by Tara Fisher. Published by Kyle Cathie at £19.99.

Please note

Following feedback from concerned readers who informed us that whisky was not gluten-free, we sought advice from Coeliac UK, who reassured us that it is fine to use whisky. If you have any concerns about any ingredients, please do check their website, which carries an extensive list of foods and drinks.


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  • Cherie Watts

    Posted: Wednesday 05 March 2014

    I have made this christmas cake for the last two years - The first year I did feel it needed a bit more cake and less fruit so the second year I just reduced the fruit slightly and it was much better for me (personal taste I guess) This cake is fabulous and could be used for wedding cake/celebration cake at any time, I make mine in advance and freeze it for about a month which seems to intensify the flavour even more. Thanks Phil this is wonderful :-D


    Posted: Sunday 15 December 2013


  • yvonne

    Posted: Saturday 07 December 2013

    I have made this cake for my daughter-in-law who informs me whisky is not gluten free. waist of time and money.

  • Espy Angove

    Posted: Saturday 23 November 2013

    With regards to the comments on whiskey being gluten free. My understanding has always been that spirits are g/f because the gluten is automatically taken OUT during the distillation process. However there will be some people that are supersensitive to spirits &/or gluten therefore will have to avoid them. For the majority - spirits are fine. I was advised on this from my dietitian, gastroenterologist & coeliac society. Beer has gluten in it so avoid, but wines are OK.

  • Richard the Scientist

    Posted: Saturday 23 November 2013

    Great recipe thanks. Of course whiskey is gluten free, it's distilled...!

  • Mary

    Posted: Friday 22 November 2013

    According to Coeliac UK all spirits are gluten free, including whisky, due to the method of distillation. BUT only if it suits you, so it's personal choice.

  • Christine Powell

    Posted: Friday 22 November 2013

    Whiskey is gluten free! See page 8 of Coeliac UK food directory.

  • carole

    Posted: Friday 01 November 2013

    hi, just looking at your recipe for gluten free Christmas cake and been a coeliac myself I was quite surprised to see that you had included whisky in your recipe which is made from barley which contains gluten and I just want people to be aware that if they are gluten intolerant it will make them ill , as I learned at my cost.

  • Robin

    Posted: Wednesday 21 November 2012

    If it is as good as it sounds many thanks for the recipe.

  • Janet

    Posted: Thursday 15 November 2012

    Gluten-free Christmas cake recipe from Phil Vickery - I don't think soaking the dried fruit in whiskey is a good idea as whiskey is not g/f as far as I recall


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