There’s no reason why a recipe for Christmas Cake shouldn’t be rebranded as any other kind of celebratory cake – I’ve just made a delicious birthday cake (for my mother-in-law’s 70th) using a slightly modified version of a Christmas cake recipe from Good Housekeeping.

Ingredients:

250g (or 9oz) of raisins
250g (or 9oz) of sultanas
100g (3.5oz) of cranberries or blueberries (I used blueberries, because thats what I had)
200g (7oz) of glace cherries, halved
200ml (7floz) of vanilla vodka
100g (3.5oz) of almonds
50g (2oz) ground almonds
200g(7oz) butter
200g (7oz) of dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs
100g (3.5oz) gluten free flour

I couldn’t find any vanilla vodka out here in the rurals, so I used Absolut vodka and added 2tbsps of vanilla extract.

Method

Soak all the fruit in the vanilla and vodka overnight – or for at least 3 hours, if you can’t wait.
Grease and line an 8″ (20.5cm) round tin, and preheat the oven to 150C.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
Gradually add in the beaten eggs, adding a little flour each time if the mixture begins to curdle.
Add the nuts and any remaining flour.
Add the soaked fruit and any remaining vodka and mix well.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, and level the surface.
Bake the cake for 3.5 hours – if it begins to look a little dark on top towards the end of the cooking time, cover the top with foil or baking parchment.
Let the cake cool in its tin before removing it.

Wrap it in a double layer of foil to store it until ready to decorate.

To decorate the cake

Assuming that you are going to decorate this in a traditional style, you will need apricot jam, marzipan, icing sugar and fondant icing. You can (and I did) sprinkle another tablespoon or so of vanilla vodka over the top of the cake – it should soak straight in. You may find that some of the blueberries have gone a bit singed on the top of the cake – just pick them off.

I use both readymade marzipan and readymade icing just because its easier. Do remember to check that both are gluten free (though they almost certainly will be).

Brush the cake with warmed apricot jam, to help the marzipan stick to the cake.
Sprinkle icing sugar onto your rolling surface, to stop the marzipan sticking to the table.
Roll out the marzipan until its about 0.5-0.75cm thick, and lay it gently over the cake. Cut off any excess around the bottom of the cake, and hide from the children until you can eat it yourself. Or save them to make marzipan decorations, if you’re creative.

It is usual to wrap up the cake again at this point and store it for about a week before adding the icing. I left mine overnight and then iced it.

Brush the marzipan with cool boiled water, to help the icing stick to the marzipan layer. Some people use sherry (or more vodka, I suppose!).
Sprinkle your working surface with icing sugar again, and roll out the icing, as above. Lift it gently over the cake, and smooth it down. Again, trim off any excess, and save for creative decorations.

At this point, you can add decorations, either made from the leftover marzipan/icing pieces, or use ready-made seasonal decorations, ribbons etc. I bought silk flowers and cut them down to make a spray of flowers for the top of the cake, and left bits around the sides too.