Christmas Cake

A while back, Lisa (and several other readers) asked me to come up with a gluten-free Christmas cake.  Being Jewish, and never having sampled Christmas cake, I had no idea what it was.

Lisa was kind enough to send me this definition:

A festive cake for celebrating Christmas here in Australia. Commonly full of dried fruits (a variety) soaked in alcohol.   Flour, brown sugar, eggs cinnamon, nutmeg. It’s generally a heavy consistency and very moist.

I don’t cook with alcohol and really make a point of avoiding it since it is high in sugar and basically empty calories. So I substituted an orange for the usual brandy in this dessert and then took some other liberties from there.

It seems from this definition that Christmas cake is a type of fruitcake and can be many things to many people, though the one key element is that it is super sweet and full of dried fruit. My friend Patricia (of Scottish descent) told me that it can also have nuts. After checking in with her, I came up with this recipe.  Hope you enjoy it.

Christmas Cake

Print Pin Recipe
Servings 6



  • Wash the orange and boil it whole (peel and all) for 1½ hours, or until soft
  • Place whole orange (peel and all) in a food processor and blend until smooth
  • Process in eggs, agave, almond extract, almond flour, salt and baking soda until well blended
  • Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in cranberries, apricots, pistachios and walnuts
  • Pour mixture into a greased, almond flour dusted 9 inch springform pan
  • If cake begins to brown on top before center is done, cover with tin foil
  • Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean
  • Cool in the pan for 2 hours
  • Serve
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Tried this recipe?Mention @elanaspantry or tag #elanaspantry!

On totally separate note, I found this article by New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicolas D. Kristof to be quite inspiring.  In it he discusses changing the name “Secretary of Agriculture” (head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) to “Secretary of Food.”  His persuasive point is that while less than 2% of the U.S. population farms, 100% of that same population eats food.  The article is very liberal and reformist along the lines of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma or Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

The New York Times’ Op-Ed page is a hotbed of brilliant writing lately churning with fascinating ideas regarding food, as well as environmentalism and economics.  Between Maureen Dowd (she is ironic and hilariously funny), Kristof and Friedman they’re a triple threat with some of the best and brightest columnists in the industry.

I made this cake last year and it was a hit! Everybody enjoyed it. Planning to make it this year too. Thank you for sharing the recipe!


53 responses to “Christmas Cake”

  1. I made this cake last year and it was a hit! Everybody enjoyed it. Planning to make it this year too. Thank you for sharing the recipie!

  2. Hi Elana, I made the Christmas cake last week and it turned out really well. All our friends enjoyed the cake on Christmas Eve and after our dinner on Christmas Day.

    I must say that I am a big fan of your recipes, particularly the Paleo Bread. I gave up cereal grains four years ago after resetting my diet, with the help of Chris Kresser and Mark Sisson. Since then, I’ve been making the Paleo Bread every week or two, and it never fails. I also love the 2-Ingredient Chocolate Pudding and the Apple Crisp. You are very generous to develop, test and post all these recipes.

    I am a 68 year-old Englishman living near London, so I’m possibly not in your core demographic, but nevertheless, I like baking and it’s great to have your recipes to help me.

    I wish you and your family well for 2018.

    • John, it’s so nice to meet you and I’m more than happy to help you, and be a part of, your paleo journey! I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed this cake along with my Paleo Bread and 2-Ingredient Chocolate Pudding. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2018 :-)

      • Hi Elana, do you think it would be OK to make this cake ahead of time, and freeze it until it’s time to eat it?

        Hope you’re feeling better.

        • John, I haven’t tried that so not sure, but I’m guessing it will be fine to do so. If you do experiment I hope you’ll let us know what worked :-)

  3. I’ve made this cake every year and it always comes out delicious. Your recipes are the best. Thank you ELANA for your amazing recipes. Happy Holidays.

    • Patricia, I’m so glad to be part of your Christmas celebrations via this cake! And thank you for letting me know that my recipes are the best :-)

  4. Hi Elana, I love your books ! I tried to make this recipe, but it was very acid, maybe I should boil the orange more…really I would like to try it again and have a wonderful Christmas cake for my family.please help me understand what I could have done wrong… I would like to ask a technical question: why boil the orange? How can I prevent the next time from becoming too acidic? Is there some kind of special orange that I can buy or an orange extract that replaces this ingredient?

    • Andrea, that happens when the orange is not boiled for the full 1.5 hours, or if your baking soda has turned :-)

  5. I made this for our family’s Christmas gathering and it was wonderful. I substituted 4 clementines for the orange since I had them on hand. I soaked the fruits and nuts in some orange liqueur while they boiled, abd used 1 tsp of Amaretto instead of almond extract.

  6. Made this on Sunday night and it has been a hit… I didn’t have walnuts or pistachios so instead used some store bought mixed peel, and lots of flavoured raisins from Nakd foods (pineapple, cherry). Everyone who has tried it cannot believe it is made from ground blanched almonds. They’ve all said it’s delicious and I have to agree… the smell coming from the oven was divine.

  7. Mine didn’t get to pouring consistency! It was quite moist and crumbly. I did use almond meal because I couldn’t get almond flour, then added a bit more agave and an extra egg. Any other ideas on getting the right consistency.

    • Kelly, I used almond meal too but mine was good. I wonder if it’s because I used honey instead of agave. I tend to prefer honey. The only issue I had was that I only had an 8″ springform pan and mine had to cook longer. I think it would be fun to try this in 2 small loaf pans, like banana bread. I adore this cake!

  8. This is the third time I’m making this cake since discovering it a week ago. It is so good that I’m afraid to make any change. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

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Recipes » Desserts » Cakes and Cupcakes » Christmas Cake