Monday, 5 November 2012

Gluten-free Christmas Cake and Writing!

I've just made my gluten-free Christmas Cake!
I do it every year around this time.
But what has that got to do with writing?
Well, I began to leave myself a note in the recipe book each October, such as you've run out of raisins, or you'll need some currants, or even how about getting a bag of mixed fruit?
I even left a note in May 2011 when I made my daughter's wedding cake!
I like looking back and seeing what I've written.

However, at the same time I began to add a note asking myself if I'd finished Gipsy Moth by the time I made my next Christmas cake. Then, another year, whether I'd got it published. It's a bit crazy sending a message to my future self, but last year I was able to write that I had self-published it and I was launching it at the local Farmers' Market as well as on Kindle!
This year I've put that I'm self-publishing my book of short stories, Postcards and Suntan Cream, again in paperback and Kindle, and that I'm getting on with my next novel.
I wonder what I'll write for 2013?

This photo shows my favourite stage in the cake-making process when all the dried fruit, that I have reminded myself to buy, is mixed together. It smells like Christmas and the colours are magical.

I've been using the same recipe for many years. I often say that I won't bother to make a cake this year, and get one from Marks and Spencers instead, but I think I've only done it once or twice when it didn't need to be gluten-free. I like homemade ones better!

I've adapted the original recipe by using plain gluten-free flour instead of normal wheat flour. The thing about gluten-free flour is that any cake you make can tend to be rather dry. For sponge cakes, you need to add 5 tablespoons of milk to get that springy texture, but that doesn't work for a rich fruit cake which has to be firmer to hold the fruit.
So I add some extra egg, that is 3 instead of 2½, or 6 instead of 5 etc.
I also use chopped dried apricots instead of mixed fruit peel, because they add more moisture, and substitute ground almonds for flaked almonds to help prevent it drying out too much.
Lastly, when it is cooked and has cooled down, I prick the bottom and sprinkle on a tablespoon of brandy, and keep it wrapped up in greaseproof paper and foil. Repeating the dosage every few weeks!

I hope that if you try my ideas, they work for you, and you can enjoy a Gluten-free Christmas Cake too!

PS Here's what it looked like straight out of the oven. Yum!


  1. What a gorgeous looking cake, Jean! Love the little notes you leave. I used to make a large Christmas cake each year but have bought a smaller homemade one from a local craft fair the last couple of years - stops us eating so much of it!

  2. What a great idea, Jean! And now I'm starving...

    1. This may appear twice! Thanks, Rosemary and Talli.
      The trouble with any cake is that it is irresistible!

  3. I love the idea of leaving notes for your future self!