Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Fruit cake has gotten a bad rap. The fruit cakes you find in the grocery stores are usually artificial tasting, and there’s always chunks of weird tasting candied fruit that, quite frankly, I would prefer to spit out. I wanted to come up with a recipe that would redeem fruit cake’s reputation, make it wholesome, and delicious.
I chose to make this with cherries because they are by far my favorite dried fruit, but you could try it with whatever combination you would prefer. I personally preferred to make it without the alcohol, but I think Amaretto would be an excellent choice if you want to make it a little more festive.
I have tried other vegan fruit cake recipes, and I found them to be quite dry and crumbly. The egg gives the cake density and keeps it from crumbling apart. So, in order to make it vegan, you need to replace it with something that will keep it together. I chose something quite unconventional. Agar-agar is a vegan replacement for gelatin, but it also works surprisingly well as an egg replacer. It is an algae that is tasteless, and has no calories and quite often used to make vegan jellies (see recipe for my Vegan Holiday Pomegranate & Grapefruit Gumdrops) but rarely as an egg replacer in baking. I had used agar-agar powder before as an egg replacer with my Gluten-Free Pistachio Shortbread Cookies, and it ended up being the best gluten-free shortbread recipe that I had made. So after my first failed attempt, I decided to make it with my good ol’ friend agar-agar again. And it turned out dense, moist, and not crumbly at all. An absolute slam dunk! So, I am happy to say that this recipe does indeed redeem the traditional fruit cake (for me anyways) and makes vegan and gluten-free taste awesome.
So, here’s how to make it.
If you decide you would like to soak your cherries in alcohol, start the day before with Amaretto, rum, sherry, or brandy. Pour just enough to ensure your cherries are all submerged in the alcohol. Alternatively, you can soak them in hot water to rehydrate them 15 minutes ahead of time.
Mix up all your ingredients according to the instructions but leave your agar-agar till last. You don’t want it to solidify before you have the chance to integrate it. Leave it as the last ingredient you combine, and do not leave it sitting in your pot.
Your batter should look like this:
Once all combined, bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let it cool and enjoy!
1 cup dried cherries
Brandy, sherry or Amaretto (alternatively you can use 3 cups of hot water)
1/4 cup coconut oil
½ cup of prepared agar-agar powder (prepared according to packaging instructions approx 1 tsp or agar agar powder to 1 cup of water)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approx 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almonds flour
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
2 heaped teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking soda
1. Combine the cherries and sherry, brandy or Amaretto in a bowl, and let soak for 24 hrs in the fridge. Alternatively, you can pour hot water on the cherries to rehydrate them for 15-20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, add sifted flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and baking soda and mix until well combined.
3. Place the coconut oil in a separate medium-sized microwavable bowl and place it in the microwave until melted (mine took about 45 sec).
4. Add the agar-agar (prepared according to packaging instructions) with the lemon juice, almond extract, salt combine in the same bowl as the coconut oil.
5. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones, then add the cherries mixture and enough of the remaining juices so that your batter is moist enough to make a homogenous mixture. *See picture
6. Transfer mixture into a greased 9.5 in x 5.5 in tin lined with parchment paper
7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until skewer come out clean
8. Let cool for 15 minutes then serve.