Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways Landscape image

Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways (Gluten-Free Option)

This Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways is my new favourite festive cake, it is packed with mixed fruits and warming spices, wrapped up in marzipan and frosting. Plus, there are three flavours to choose from: Chocolate Orange; Cherry Almond; or Caramel Apple.

A few years ago, I would have told you that I don’t like Christmas cake but after a few experiments and nourishing vegan twists, I really love these small 4-inch cakes. I was challenged by Tala, a leading bakeware brand, to create three Christmas cakes and to dedicate each flavour to a friend or family member. So, I created a:

  • Chocolate Orange Cake (for my mum who loves chocolate). It’s chocolatey and fruity like a terry’s chocolate orange and Christmas cake combined. Decorated with vanilla buttercream, chocolate spread ganache and fresh orange zest.
  • Cherry Almond Cake (for my dad who is a cherry almond lover). It’s fruity and nutty like a festive Christmas cake and cherry Bakewell. Top this one with vanilla buttercream, fresh cherries, chopped almonds and cinnamon.
  • Caramel Apple (for all my friends who have a thing for caramel). This is so special  and is gooey, sweet and sticky all decorated with vanilla buttercream, sticky cinnamon apples and caramel sauce.

What do these Christmas cakes taste like?

These Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways are such showstoppers, they are:

  • Packed with mixed fruits and peel
  • Loaded with warming spices
  • Nutty and fruity
  • Coated in a delicious layer of marzipan
  • Decorated with buttercream
  • Easy to make in a few steps
  • Fun to make as part of your festive traditions
  • Great for all the family
  • Easy to adapt to make your favourite flavour
  • Last a while (without the buttercream)
  • Small – they are 4-inch cakes but still feed a crowd

If you already love these Christmas cakes, scroll down for the recipe card below, or firstly let’s see what we need for these cakes.

A slice of Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Caramel Apple
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Caramel Apple

What ingredients go into the base recipe for these Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways?

The base recipe for the three cakes is the same right up to the last part of the recipe:

  • Orange: juice and zest for the festive flavour. To make these cakes alcoholic, you can use brandy instead of all or part of the orange juice. I tend to make these with orange juice and you get all the classic flavour.
  • Chia seeds or flax seeds: grind your chia or flaxseeds before mixing with water to form a thick gel. This acts as our “egg” in this recipe.
  • Mixed dried fruits: this is easy to find in the shops as a pre-made mix with mixed peel, too. Or you can make your own mix of dried fruits and chopped peel, too. Raisins, sultanas, currants, figs, dates… anything goes.
  • Vegan butter: this adds a lovely buttery taste and texture to the cake once cooled. You could also try vegan margarine spread, too, but I have not tried these with coconut oil.
  • Light brown sugar: I love the richer flavour of this sugar rather than white sugar. It adds a lot of the classic Christmas smells, too.
  • Plain or GF plain flour: this keeps the cake lighter and moist, too. If you are using a GF flour, make sure the blend contains xantham gum to prevent it from crumbling. Unlike most cakes, these Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways don’t have much flour in at all.
  • Ground almonds: this adds a lovely nutty and Christmassy taste to the cakes that is pretty delicious. You could use the grind of another nut like hazelnut or a seed, too. Grind up any nuts or seeds to a fine meal in a blender to make your own.
  • Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda: for the rise.
  • Cinnamon: for the warming Christmas flavour.
  • Mixed spices: for a little bit more Christmas-ness.
  • Vanilla: this always takes your bakes to the next level.
Un-frosted Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways
Lifting a slice out from a Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Caramel Apple
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Caramel Apple

Now it’s time to add in the flavour ingredients to make these cakes even more special.

How do I make the flavours?

Into the base mix, just add:

  • Chocolate Orange Cake: some chocolate chips, chopped walnuts and extra orange zest.
  • Cherry Almond Cake: chopped cherries and flaked almonds.
  • Caramel Apple: chopped dates add the caramel taste and chopped pecans and fresh apple finish it off.

Can I make this cake plain?

Yes, when I was first testing out this recipe, I made a more traditional cake. To the base recipe, simply add 30g more mixed dried fruits and 20g chopped walnuts or pecans per 4-inch cake.

Do I have to make three smaller cakes – can I make one larger cake?

To make this recipe, I did experiment with larger cakes, so you can certainly make one 20-cm or 8-inch cake with the recipe below – remember to multiple the specific cake flavour(s) by three. It will take much longer to bake, though. I suggest the first bake for 45 minutes then cover and turn down the oven for 60-90 minutes. Note that the caramel apple cake does take longer to cook anyway.

Inside a Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Cherry Almond
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Cherry Almond
A cut open Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Chocolate Orange
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake Chocolate Orange

Are these Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways gluten-free and nut-free?

These cakes are easily gluten-free just make sure you use a GF flour blend that you usually bake with. To make these cakes nut-free, swap the ground almonds for ground seeds (blitz your sunflower or pumpkin seed to a fine meal like flour) and skip the nuts inside the cake, opting for seeds (or chocolate chips) instead.

Can I make these cakes ahead of time?

Most Christmas cakes are made 1-2 months before Christmas day to allow the flavours to infuse and these cakes are the same. To make these cakes a month or so ahead of time, once the cakes are cool, invert them and spike holes in the bottom. Pour over 1 tsp brandy per small cake and wrap tightly in parchment and tin foil. You can repeat this process every two weeks. When ready, prepare the marzipan and frosting.

I hope that answers all your Christmas Cake questions and I hope you will love all of these cakes. If you are looking for more festive bakes, how about my:

Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways (Gluten-Free)

  • Servings: 18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways is my new favourite festive cake, it is packed with mixed fruits and warming spices, wrapped up in marzipan and frosting. Plus, there are three flavours to choose from: Chocolate Orange; Cherry Almond; or Caramel Apple.

Ingredients

    For the base cake:
  • 2 oranges, divided
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds + 6 tbsp water
  • 450g mixed dried fruits
  • 75ml orange juice (or brandy)
  • 150g vegan butter, cubed
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 150g plain or GF plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250g vegan marzipan
  • For the Chocolate Orange Cake:
  • 30g chocolate chips
  • 20g walnuts, chopped
  • 80g chocolate spread, warmed so it’s runnier
  • Extra orange zest
  • For the Cherry Almond Cake:
  • 30g glace cherries, chopped
  • 30g flaked almonds, plus extra
  • 2 tbsp cherry or other jam
  • 5 fresh cherries
  • Cinnamon, to sprinkle
  • For the Caramel Apple Cake:
  • 30g dates, chopped
  • 20g pecans, chopped
  • 1 small apple, divided
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce
  • 1 tsp vegan butter
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • For the Buttercream:
  • 75g vegan butter, softened
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp aquafaba or plant-based milk

Directions

  1. Zest and oranges and save ¼ for later. Stir together the chia seeds and water to form a gel.
  2. Add the dried fruits, orange juice, ¾ of the orange zest, vegan butter and light brown sugar to a saucepan and stir. Allow the butter and sugar to melt and bring to the boil. Allow the mix to simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until thick and glossy. Keep to one side.
  3. Preheat the oven to 130Fan/150C and grease and line three 4-inch cake tins with parchment paper.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt. Now pour in the chia seed gel, vanilla and the sticky fruit mix. Stir to a thick batter with no specks of flour.
  5. Divide the mixture into three equal portions and place into separate bowls.
  6. For the Chocolate Orange cake, stir in the rest of the orange zest, the chocolate chips and the walnuts.
  7. For the Cherry Almond cake, stir in the glace cherries and flaked almonds.
  8. For the Caramel Apple cake, stir in the chopped dates and pecans. Chop the apple very small and add half (save half for the topping).
  9. Pour each batter into separate cake tins and smooth over the top. Bake for 20 minutes then cover with foil, turn down the oven to 120Fan/140C and bake for another 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (if only cooking one tin at a time, they may take around 30 minutes once the oven has been turned down). The Caramel Apple cake may take 5-10 minutes longer.
  10. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes then carefully remove from the tins and allow to cool fully. *SEE NOTE*
  11. Ahead of time, prepare the caramel apples: add the vegan butter, ½ chopped apple, light brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon to a saucepan and fry off for 10 minutes over a medium-high heat until bubbly and sticky. Allow to cool.
  12. Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to about ½ cm thickness. You may need to re-roll it to cover all three cakes.
  13. Make the buttercream by beating the butter until smooth then gradually beating in the icing sugar, vanilla and aquafaba or plant-based milk. Use an electric whisk or freestanding mixer for best results and continue to beat until fluffy and airy.
  14. For the Chocolate Orange cake: spread 20g of the chocolate spread over the cake and cover with 1/3 of the marzipan. Smother with roughly ¼ of the buttercream, working your way up the sides. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes then pour on the remaining chocolate spread and top with the orange zest.
  15. For the Cherry Almond cake: spread the jam over the cake and cover with 1/3 of the marzipan. Now cover with ¼ of the buttercream until smooth and pipe on 5 rosettes of buttercream. Top with cherries and the extra almonds and cinnamon. Pop in the fridge to set.
  16. For the Caramel Apple cake, spread the cake with 1 tbsp of the caramel sauce and cover with 1/3 of the marzipan. Spread with ¼ of the buttercream and pipe on a ring of buttercream around the top. Fill the middle with the caramel apples and their sauce and drizzle over the other 1 tbsp of caramel. Chill in the fridge to set.
  17. Keep the Christmas Cakes in the fridge for up to 1 week or at room temperature in a sealed container for 5-7 days (the Caramel Apple Cake will last 3-5 days).
  18. *NOTE*: to make these cakes a month or so ahead of time, once the cakes are cool, invert them and spike holes in the bottom. Pour over 1 tsp brandy per small cake and wrap tightly in parchment and tin foil. You can repeat this process every two weeks. When ready, prepare the marzipan and frosting.
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways Landscape image
Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways

I look forward to hearing what you think of these Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways so please let me know what one is your favourite! I would love to see if you make these Christmas cakes, so please tag me in them – I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With Christmas cake love x

4 thoughts on “Easy Vegan Christmas Cake 3 Ways (Gluten-Free Option)

  1. Anna says:

    To make one larger cake should I just put all this mix into one 20cm tin and multiply the flavour addition by three or should I use an online cake size converter?

    • nourishingamy says:

      Hi Anna, yes great question! If you read the part I do explain about that – use the full base recipe then times the flavour by three and follow the instructions for the cooking time for the larger cake! Note that the cake won’t be as tall as these ones. But if you want you can also check online if you’d prefer. Hope that helps!

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