Category Archives: Baking

Yule / Winter Solstice / Christmas cake. Gluten, dairy and citrus free

Living in a house full of allergies and coeliac disease means certain treats can be hard to come by and although it’s fairly easy to get gluten free christmas cake, It’s impossible to find one that is citrus free as well.  So I make my own (and alot of other things as well).  My husband has a citrus allergy and nearly all of the christmas food is full of citrus peel, so I thought I’d post my recipe for other sufferers.  Always check your ingredients for hidden allergens, I use a berry mix and dried apricots to simulate the colours of mixed peel and some crystalised ginger to increase the depth of flavour.  I’ve made this cake four years in a row and it’s universally loved.  This makes one eight inch cake.


500g dried fruit e.g. the following
75g Currants
75g Sultanas
50g chopped dried apricots
50g chopped crystalised ginger
50g dried berries/cherries
200g raisins
150ml brandy
2 tsp cider vinegar
vegetable oil or spray for oiling tin
150g gluten free flour (I use Doves Farm)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp mixed spice (½ cinnamon, ½ ginger)
1 tsp ground allspice
150g butter
150g dark brown sugar
3 medium eggs
50g ground almonds
2 tablespoons soya milk
50g whole blanched almonds chopped
1 tbsp treacle or maple syrup
1 tbsp clear honey


1. Start yesterday. Add the dried fruit, brandy and vinegar to a pan and heat to simmering point, take off the heat and cover. Leave to soak over night.
2. Preheat the oven to 150° C.
3. Oil and line the base of a 8″ round or square cake tin.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, xanthum gum and spices together.
5. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
6. Gradually add the eggs and flour, alternately, a little at a time.
7. Mix in the ground almonds.
8. Stir in the milk.
9. Add the soaked dried fruit
10. Add the chopped almonds.
11. Finally stir in the treacle and honey.
12. Give the whole mixture a good stir.
13. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth.
14. Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
15. Leave to cool in the tin.

Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil in an airtight container. Will keep for one month or freeze, allow 3 to 4 hours to defrost.


I usually make this about 3 weeks before I need it, then add marzipan and fondant icing.

The sun returns

Well the solstice has been and gone and the plans that we had to go out on the morning and find a yule log were put to bed with Gareth as he had man flu.  It’s been a quiet holiday, with lots of cooking and eating, the year before I felt we had missed out as it’s difficult to buy food to cover four allergies/intolerances, so this year I did a lot of cooking and most of it was a success.  I made the cake as posted before, although the decorations didn’t turn out quite how I wanted, gluten free lebkuchen, apple and mincemeat tart, and mushroom  wellington for our Yule main.  I’ve also been playing around with coconut panna cotta using agar agar which worked surprisingly well so will be added to the regular repertoire.

As my real world art course was cancelled I’ve signed up for an online course which I’m hoping to start soon.  The dismal, dreary, constant rain we’ve had for months has put me off adventuring outside and has been quite depressing.  However, I have plans for a couple of paintings and poems to go with, which I have started, so all is not lost yet.

Winter is coming

Well my plans for the watercolour course have fizzled out as the course got cancelled due to lack of interest.  I’ve had this problem with learndevon before, they don’t seem to do much promoting.  I’ve contacted the artist running the course and she’s planning to try again in the spring and I might try promoting it myself to see if I can get people interested. I think in the interim I might try an online course.  I have been painting, mainly autumnal leaves, and am beginning to get my colours to blend nicely.  When I was a child I was fan of Rosina Wachtmeister partly because I love cats, and partly because I loved the metallic elements she added.  On this theme I outlined a recent leaf watercolour with a  bronze pen which worked very well, what didn’t work so well was highlighting the veins in gold, the pen was a bit too fat and the lines are too big, but it’s given me some ideas.  I’ve also decided, after watching a few videos on youtube to start sketching simple shapes like leaves with watercolour pencils rather than graphite pencils as they give a softer line.  I’ll post some photos soon of how I’m getting on.

As the weather is drawing in here, we’ve had rain and lots of wind so the garden is a riot of fallen leaves and as we head towards the solstice, like most people I’m making preparations for that, including starting my Yule cake today.  With all the food allergies (bananas, citrus, gluten and dairy) in this house, I have to make everything from scratch.  I substitute citrus peel for crystalised ginger in my cake and it works really well.  I have some ideas for decorating it this year and I’ll post a photo when I’m done.  Now to think about Solstice cards…