Experiments with Christmas Cake

Christmas cake is another British tradition and, despite the vague sounding name, Christmas cake is a very specific type of cake –  a fruit cake with spices, usually iced with a layer of marzipan under a layer of icing. There are several traditions around the making and eating of the cake (or of the Christmas pudding). Making the cake used to be just as important as eating it, every member in the family would stir the mix once and sometimes would make a wish. Often a sixpence would also be baked into the cake or pudding as well, when the cake was cut and eaten, whoever found the sixpence would be lucky.

I’ve used this recipe in the past with great success so that’s where I started this year. However, when I noticed that there’s almond flour in it I decided to replace all the wheat flour with almond flour to make the cake gluten-free. Christmas cake recipes are usually enormous and this one is no exception so I also decided to make only 2/5 of the recipe and split it into 2 tins so I get 2 much much smaller cakes.


Well, experimenting with recipes is always tricky and making so many changes all at once was always a bad idea. Did I mention that I was also using brand new tins in a different material than I normally use (anodized aluminium instead of the standard non-stick stuff)? Well I was and some quick googling led me to believe these new tins would be a lot more non-stick than they actually were so I only greased them when I should have lined the bottom.

As you can imagine, a really large, dense cake takes a long time to cook (3 hours according to the recipe). I was aware of this and I did adjust my cooking time down to just 1 hour for the 2 smaller cakes I made but I think even that may have been too long. Anyway, whether it was the change of flour, the smaller cakes, the new tins or the cooking time, my cakes crumbled significantly in my attempts to remove them from the tins. I think one is salvageable, I’m just hoping the addition of brandy over the next few weeks will add some moisture and help hold the cake together. If not, at least the icing should contain it until it’s cut!

I think the other cake may just have to become an exciting opportunity to develop some kind of related recipe… Christmas cake sundae maybe? Any ideas, let me know!


4 thoughts on “Experiments with Christmas Cake

  1. I have found that using the mix of almond meal and plain rice flour gives excellent results in these type of cakes. I only make both my fruit and sultana cakes without spices. The taste of delicious quality dried fruits comes more when not overshadowed by spices. Rice flour and almond meal lighten up the texture and baking is easy, too, especially in Bundt type baking pans.

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