This Easy Gluten-Free Fruit Cake will be an ideal addition to your festive celebrations. Although it contains minimal ingredients, it has fabulous flavour and great texture. If you do not have the time or the inclination to make a rich, dark fruit cake, weeks in advance, this cake is ideal as it can easily be made at short notice.
Why we love this recipe:
This is the easiest fruit cake to make and it can be prepared quickly at the last moment. What’s more, it is extremely moist and cuts beautifully.
Whilst I love a traditional rich, dark, dense, fruit cake, this is not to everyone’s taste. Many people prefer the lighter flavour and texture of this easy recipe. Although it does not have the rich, dense nature of more traditional cakes which contain generous quantities of brown sugar, butter and eggs, the texture is moist and the flavours lighter.
As well, this cake is suitable for many people with special dietary requirements as it is gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free and vegan. This makes entertaining so much easier.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Mixed dried fruit – I used a good quality, commercially prepared mixture of dried fruit. It contained raisins, sultanas (golden raisins), currants, mixed candied citrus peel and glace cherries. Mixed dried fruit is available, packaged, from major supermarkets. However, you may prefer to make a combination of dried fruits which best suit your taste.
Mixed spice – sometimes called pudding spice, this is a blend of sweet spices. It adds fragrant warmth to cakes, puddings and biscuits. Generally, it will contain a combination of spices such as finely ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice. It is similar to our Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix.
Almond milk – I used almond milk for this recipe. However, you could use soy milk if you prefer or use cows’ milk if dairy is not a problem. I have also seen recipes which contain commercial iced coffee or even cold tea.
This Gluten-Free Fruit Cake is not overly sweet so if you have a “sweet tooth”, and you don’t have any dietary restrictions, you may choose to soak the dried fruit in fruit juice.
You could use orange, apple, pineapple or cranberry juice. You could even try apricot nectar. If you like to include some alcohol in your fruit cake, simply add some to the dried fruit mix along with your chosen liquid.
Gluten-free self-raising flour – I have used a commercially prepared gluten-free flour. Use the flour blend of your preference.
You can use regular wheat self-raising flour if you do not need to make a gluten-free cake.
Step by step instructions:
Prior to making the Gluten-Free Fruit Cake, you will need to add your dried fruit and almond milk to a large bowl. Stir well, cover with cling wrap, transfer to the refrigerator and soak for 24 hours. The fruit will absorb most of the liquid, becoming beautifully plump and moist.
After soaking the fruit, remove it from the refrigerator.
Prepare your cake tin, and preheat your oven.
- Add the combined sifted flour and mixed spice to the fruit and fold the ingredients together.
- Turn the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven for about 1 ½ hours. To test when the cake is done, touch the centre of the cake gently. The cake is cooked if it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven.
- Brush with a little rum, sherry or brandy if using.
- Set the cake aside on a metal rack to cool completely before removing it from the tin.
Tips for success and FAQs:
For the Four Ingredient Fruit Cake, it is necessary to plan ahead. Ideally, the mixed dried fruit should be soaked in the liquid of your choice for 24 hours or at least a minimum of 12 hours. This will ensure that the fruit becomes plump and moist, making for a better textured, more enjoyable cake.
With so few ingredients it is important to use the best quality. Do not opt for the budget blend of mixed dried fruit; it may contain artificial cherries and excessively dry fruit.
Yes, you can customise a mixture to your own taste; if you don’t like candied citrus peel, leave it out. You could include dried cranberries or blueberries if you wish. The addition of dates would add a wonderful caramel sweetness.
Pumpkin Spice Mix is a good alternative!
Because the cake does not contain any added sugar or fat to keep it moist, I recommend that you do not make it far in advance of serving. As it is so easy to make, to achieve the best result, I would make it no more than four or five days in advance. To store it, ensure that it is completely cold before first wrapping it in cling wrap and then thoroughly in foil. Store in a cool, dark place.
Yes, certainly, you can freeze the cake. Just ensure that the cake has completely cooled before wrapping it. Wrap it well first in cling wrap and then firmly in a double layer of foil. If you have an airtight freezer container that will hold the cake, I suggest that you also place the wrapped cake in that. Moisture is the enemy when freezing. For the best result, I suggest that you do not freeze for longer than one month.
When it comes to serving:
If the cake has been frozen, remove it from the freezer one day before you need it. It is best to defrost it slowly in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature.
The cake can be iced or frosted and decorated as you wish.
Alternatively, to fancy it up a little, you could glaze the top of the cake with some apricot jam heated with a little water or brandy. Push the jam glaze through a fine sieve and brush the cake. Decorate with a colourful assortment of glace fruit and nuts. Brush again with a little glaze to make the fruits glisten.
However, if you opt for a simpler solution, which I have done, dust it with icing/confectioners’ sugar. Use a paper doily or appropriate stencils to create attractive patterns.
Serve the cake at room temperature with a tea, coffee or liqueur of your choice. It is perfect for when family and friends visit over the festive season.
In addition, you could warm it a little in a microwave and serve as dessert with a dollop of cream or some custard. It would also be delicious with our No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream!
This simple cake, which is full of fruit, is a great addition to your Christmas cooking. As well, it is ideal for people who have a busy schedule – and that’s most of us these days.
So, if you feel you would like a fruit cake, but you just don’t have the time, I encourage you to try this recipe. You could even get the children involved; it is that simple.
Love to know in the comments below what you think!
P.S. Looking for some other fabulous festive recipes? I recommend you check out our recipes for:
This post was originally published in December 2018. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
This recipe was adapted from one by Annabel Langbein.
Gluten-Free Fruit Cake
- 6 cups (1 kg) mixed dried fruit packed in cups, but not compressed. See Note 1
- 2 ½ cups (600 ml) almond milk See Notes 2 and 3
- 2 ¾ cups (415 g) gluten-free self raising flour See Notes 4 and 5
- 1 ½ teaspoon mixed spice See Note 6
- 1 tablespoon brandy, sherry or rum optional – See Note 7
- icing sugar to dust optional – leave off if wanting to keep refined sugar free
For accuracy, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
- Place the dried fruit in a bowl, add the almond milk and stir well.Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave the fruit to soak overnight in the fridge. Ideally, soak for 24 hours.
- When ready to bake the cake, pre-heat the oven to 160 Degrees C (320 F).
- Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm (9 inch) spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
- Remove the fruit from the fridge. If the bowl in which you soaked the fruit is not large enough to add the flour, transfer the fruit to a larger bowl.
- Add the mixed spice to the flour and gradually sift it into the fruit mixture, mixing with a wooden or large metal spoon until well combined.
- Add the mixture to the prepared tin and smooth the top.Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. As everyone’s oven is different, I recommend that you check at 1 ¼ hours.To test when the cake is done, touch the centre of the cake gently. The cake is cooked if it is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover it with a piece of foil.
- Remove from the oven when cooked and brush with a little rum, sherry or brandy if using.Cool completely in the tin before turning out.
- Wrap well in cling wrap and then in foil. Or, wrap in cling wrap and store in an airtight container.The cake can be iced or frosted and decorated as you wish. If you opt for a simple solution, which I have done, dust it with icing/confectioners’ sugar. Use a paper doily or appropriate stencils to create attractive patterns.
- Optional:You could glaze the top of the cake with some apricot jam heated with a little water or brandy. Push the jam glaze through a fine sieve and brush the cake.Decorate with a colourful assortment of glace fruit and nuts. Brush again with a little glaze to make the fruits glisten.
- Use a good quality commercially packed mixed dried fruit or customise a mixture to suit your taste. Add or omit mixed peel, use dried cranberries or blueberries, add glace cherries or include chopped dates for caramel sweetness.
- I use almond milk for this recipe but you could also use soy milk or cows milk if you do not require the recipe to be vegan. If you have a sweet tooth, you may prefer to use orange, apple, pineapple or cranberry juice. You could even try apricot nectar. I have also seen recipes that use cold tea or iced coffee.
- This cake is not overly sweet. If you would prefer a sweeter cake you may choose to soak the fruit in fruit juice.
- I have used a commercial gluten-free self-raising flour which is made from a blend of naturally occurring gluten-free flours along with the addition of a raising agent. Our gluten-free flour blends contain either xanthan or guar gum to stabilise and provide structure to our recipes.
- You can substitute regular self-raising flour if you don’t need the cupcakes to be gluten-free.
- If you are not able to find mixed spice, Pumpkin Spice Mix is a good alternative.
- I brush the top of the cake with brandy when it comes out of the oven. It’s a nice touch but not absolutely necessary.
- This recipe was adapted from one by Annabel Langbein.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on the cake being enjoyed as 10 serves. You may find it serves more people, as in general, only a small amount is enjoyed at a time. The nutritional information as an estimate only.
The nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients and brands you use.