Gluten free Christmas cake

This is my adaptation of this one:

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/food/recipes/christmas/phil-vickerys-rich-fruit-christmas-cake

Ingredients

  • 650g dried fruit including peel (currants, raisins, sultanas, a few dried cranberries because I’m not keen on glacé cherries, homemade candied peel)
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 150ml brandy
  • 150g Angelique GF flour
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp spices (1+ mixed spice made up to 2 with freshly ground nutmeg and “true” cinnamon)
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 50 ground almonds
  • extra tbsp brandy + extra to pour on cake when cool

Lined 18 cm tin – makes a tall cake, I think a wider tin might work

Method

Leave dried fruit in bowl with lemon juice and brandy to soak overnight. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Sift (or whisk) flour, spices and baking powder together and add to butter sugar mixture a little at a time until well incorporated. Add soaked fruit and zest as well as both almonds. Mix well and transfer to tin, levelling surface.

Bake at 300F on bottom shelf for first hour or so, upper shelf last hour, approx. 2¼ hours in total. When cooled, pour brandy over before storing for a week or so.

Topping

I used almond paste decorated with glacé cherries and almonds.

Almond paste:

  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 4oz icing sugar
  • ½ egg beaten
  • lemon juice

Mix sugar and ground almonds making sure there are no lumps of sugar left, add beaten egg and mix well. This will not all incorporate properly – use lemon juice to moisten sufficiently to gather ingredients into a ball. Place ball on waxed paper and cover with a circle of baking parchment about the same size, or slightly larger than the top of the cake. Roll between the two sheets until paste reaches edges of circle. 

Melt about a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly with lemon juice in the microwave until the jelly is all liquid and brush over top of cake. Peel circle of parchment off almond paste and apply to top of cake, using waxed paper to hold it. Press in place and peel off paper. Decorate as preferred. I used more jelly glaze to stick almonds and glacé cherries in place.

Especially good (says R) when accompanied by a piece of sharp cheese à la mode de Yorkshire
Wensleydale or Cheddar for example

Verdict

Looks like Christmas cake, good flavour but a bit crumbly in the middle. The base and sides cut quite well but the middle crumbles so I wonder if it needed cooking a bit longer. Certainly doesn’t have that pasty taste some GF cakes and breads have. Conventional Christmas cake is cooked much longer at a slightly lower temperature. I cut down the xantham gum by half as the flour I used has some gums in it, maybe it needed to extra. I also omitted the tablespoon of black treacle (North America substitute molasses) and honey as I didn’t think it needed to be any sweeter and other recipes don’t include them Perhaps they would have helped it be less crumbly? I didn’t think a tablespoon of each would make much difference.

Worth trying again (next year!) and maybe risk cooking longer. The texture is not suitable for taking a chunk on a winter hike.

Note about the flour: all gluten free flours are by no means equal. The more expensive ones contain more expensive ingredients like tapioca flour which improves the results and also tend to be milled more finely which also helps. In USA I would use King Arthur Flour gluten free version which gives very good results in cakes but in Quebec I think the best is Angélique. I make my own candied peel because the stuff available in shops tends to be a bit dry and tasteless.

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