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Phil Vickery's gluten-free Christmas cake recipe

Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery explains how to make the perfect gluten-free fruit christmas cake, with a texture that's even better than a traditional one. 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.

Gluten-free Christmas cake
A topping of fruit or nuts makes a great topping that isn't too sweet

Preparation time

20 minutes

Soaking time


Cooking time

1 1/2- 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

For the gluten-free four mix

  • 300g fine polenta or chestnut flour 
  • 500g brown rice flour 
  • 200g cornflour


  • 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

  • Mix all the flours together very thoroughly or put into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Store in an airtight container.

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.

Visit our Christmas recipes for more festive ideas, including Christmas baking recipes, or browse our selection of gluten-free recipes.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.