Easy Gluten-Free Easter Cake
Easy gluten-free Easter fruit cake
A moist, rich gluten free fruit cake with a hidden layer of baked marzipan. Top with mini eggs for a delicious Easter cake, or deck it out with snowmen and ribbons to double it up as a Christmas cake.
PREP TIME: 40 MINS
COOK TIME: 3 HOURS
COOLING TIME: 45 MINS
My whole life, I’ve LOVED Easter. As a kid I was completely addicted to creme eggs and everything else sickly. I would happily scoop out the gloopy artificial filling with sticky fingers, easily putting away a pack of 4 in one short sitting. Not the most attractive image, looking back.
These days I’ve graduated onto more adult-y eggs. You know the ones, those dark chocolate things you see in Waitrose masquerading as avocados to please the millennials. Things like that.
Having an issue with dairy does make the whole Easter egg scene a bit more complicated than it used to. Though if I’m being truly honest, I did cave and have a milk chocolate one this year, despite the inevitable skin breakouts that it gives me.
How to make gluten-free fruit cake
When it comes to making an Easter cake though, things get a lot easier. Fruit cake is one of the easiest types of cake to make gluten-free, without noticing any difference whatsoever with the normal gluten version.
The bulk of this cake is made up of naturally GF and DF ingredients:
- Dried fruit
- DF margarine
… plus a little bit of gluten free flour.
I’m a huge marzipan fan. I can happily eat whole chunks of the stuff completely plain, although I would equally go for bars covered in dark chocolate or thick layers melted into the middle of a cake like this one.
However, I am sadly aware that for many people it can be a bit of a marmite ingredient. And to those people I say – guys, you’re really missing out.
In all seriousness, you can omit the marzipan from this recipe without any issues. Seems a bit of a travesty to me but hey, whatever floats your boat. You could always choose to top the cake with some dairy-free buttercream or royal icing instead, or have a naked cake with glazed nuts and fruit on top.
An important ingredient: the alcohol
This recipe uses two different types of alcohol:
- Ruby port
- Your choice of liqueur
Quite honestly, you could get away with almost any spirit lying around the house. I finished off a bottle of quality whisky with the port in this recipe, but you could equally use various flavours of liqueur, or sub out the port and just have one type of alcohol.
It’s really just to flavour the fruit while they soak and cook.
Easy Gluten-Free Easter Fruit Cake
For the cake filling
- 500 g (3 cups) mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, cranberries)
- 1 large orange, juiced
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- grated zest of ½ orange
- 50 g (½ cup) mixed nuts, halved (e.g. walnuts, almonds, pecans)
- 75 ml (3oz) flavoured liqueur or whisky (e.g. orange Cointreau)
- 60 ml (2.5oz) ruby port
- 2 large eggs
- 110 g (¾ cup) dark brown muscovado sugar
- 110 g (½ cup) dairy-free butter (plus some extra for greasing)
- 90 g (¾ cup) Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour blend
- 60 g (½ cup) Doves Farm Gluten Free self-raising flour blend
For the topping & middle layer
- 1 tbsp jam, warmed (traditionally apricot, though can use any)
- 1 pack golden almond marzipan (about 500g)
- 1 small pack mini eggs or other dairy-free chocolate eggs
- some icing sugar, for rolling
- Preheat oven to gas mark 2 or fan 130°C / 270°F. Grease and line the base and sides of an 18-20cm round cake tin with three layers of baking paper to keep cake from burning. Stick each layer of baking paper together with a bit of extra butter
- Using a large saucepan on a low heat, cook the dried fruit together with the mixed spice, orange juice and zest, liqueur and port. Once the mixture is simmering, heat for 3-4 minutes and stir regularly. Once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 30 mins
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add in the butter, sugar and flour. Beat together until you get a smooth and airy mixture. Finally, gently stir in the fruit mixture and nuts
- Cut the block of marzipan into three sections. Take one section and shape it into a rough ball, before rolling out on a clean surface dusted with icing sugar, until it is approximately the size of the baking tin.
- Spoon half of the cake mix into the tin and place the rolled layer of marzipan on top. Then spoon the rest of the mixture on top, making a slight, shallow dip in the centre to prevent the cake from rising too much in the middle
- Loosely cover the cake with some tin foil and place on a middle rack in the oven. Bake for 2 hours, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 30-45 mins or until the cake is golden brown. You can also insert a skewer into the centre, which should come out mostly clean, albeit with some of the melted marzipan stuck to it
- Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Then carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack, peel off the lining paper and leave to cool completely
- For the decoration, take a second block of the marzipan, shape into a rough ball and roll out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Use the empty cake tin as a template to cut around. Flip the cake upside-down and place on a plate. Brush the top of the cake with warmed jam and then place the marzipan layer on top. You might need to trim the edges a bit, although leaving an overhang is perfectly fine
- Shape the final block of marzipan into 11 balls (if you want to be traditional, otherwise decorate however you fancy). Top it off with some mini eggs or any other choice of Easter themed topping. Then serve and enjoy!