I’ve never been into Christmas cakes. They were too sweet and I wasn’t a fan of the green and red glace cherries. Turns out I was probably right to be wary of them as too often store bought cakes (or even those home made) are full of additives and preservatives which are in the dried fruits used to make them – and the cherries are often the worst of the lot. The most commonly used additive in dried fruit is preservative sulphur dioxide (number 220) which gives dried fruit its bright colours. It’s also used to stop the fruit from going mouldy.

I’ve made this recipe for my husband (Project H) as he’s a massive fruit cake fan. I was quite apprehensive about making this recipe for some reason. Guess it just seemed quite a grown-up-ish type of recipe and the ingredients are expensive – so it’s not your everyday banana muffin mixture!

Thankfully this recipe has the Project H seal of approval so that’s saying something.

For the dried fruit I suggest using a mixture of figs, cranberries, currants, raisins prunes and apricots – we used equal amounts of figs, cranberries and apricots. Do your best to find dried fruits without additives/ preservatives – apricots especially are often with preservative. But at the same time – don’t stress out about it – this is not something I recommend you eat a lot of or that you eat regularly. Great choices for nuts are combinations of pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts.


If you love spices then you can definitely put more of these in this recipe. I’m not such a huge fan of cloves and nutmeg so that is why we went a bit lighter on them. But I’d say 1/4 teaspoon each of clove, nutmeg, ginger & allspice (or variation thereof) would be yum if you like things spicy.

Also you can use butter if you prefer and can tolerate dairy. I just love macadamia oil and we have a friend that has given me quite a bit of it so using it in loads of recipes. (Definitely its a good one to use for homemade mayo.)

And of course for the Christmas celebration you could certainly soak the fruit in brandy or whiskey instead of water.

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[EDIT: Some notes I think may be helpful:

1.This paleo christmas cake is absolutely NOT an everyday food. It’s extremely high in sugar.

Since dried fruit is very high in sugar and since this cake is mostly dried fruit and includes honey (although you could leave that out) it’s going to have a lot of sugar. Over the past year my views on sugar have changed quite a bit. I can see that even moderate amounts of it has the potential to wreck a lot of havoc on many of us. Today my recommendation is that we not only eliminate most refined sugar and sugar in juices and soft drinks, but also that we look to significantly reduce the amount of natural sweeteners and fruit we’re having.

However, at the same time my thoughts (and these may change) is that it’s OK to have something sweet on occasion if you’re mindful of it and enjoy it and it works for you.  Certainly if you were going to have a traditional Christmas cake then you’d generally be having even more sugar than in this cake plus grains/dairy/gluten plus loads of additives/preservatives alongside. But just because this cake doesn’t have those things is not a green light to eat with abandon!

2. On that note – I use the word “paleo” to describe some of the recipes here on our blog as a heuristic.

heuristic meaning it’s essentially a shortcut way to refer a food which is dairy free and gluten/grain free.  It means that the recipes are found much more quickly by those searching for such foods. I appreciate the critique of using Paleo as a term to describe a food that is high in sugar when that is something that is not recommended generally. But I’m also trying to find the best way to reach as many people as possible to help and inspire them to adopt a real food way of eating. If posting from time to time cheesecake, muffin, loaf or other mixtures under the name “Paleo” means that my blogging reaches a wider audience whose eyes are then opened to what’s really in all our processed foods and leads them to changing their eating to a more real foods approach then (at least for the moment) that is something I’m comfortable with. (Unfortunately my Nose To Tail Tuesdays emphasising sustainability and organ meats are never quite as popular as Paleo Cheesecake – but I’ll keep trying!)

3. The evolutionary lens…

As far as food and nutrition goes you can find see here the essence of what Paleo means for me – essentially it’s a term I use to refer to the viewing of diet and lifestyle through an evolutionary lens, in order to understand where we’re currently at and what we need to do.]

Ok enough of the serious stuff …here’s how you make this cake…

Paleo Christmas Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A Christmas Cake that's deliciously decadent but super easy and fun to make – this Christmas cake is gluten free, grain free and can be made dairy free.
Recipe type: Christmas
Type of food: Paleo
Serves: 1 medium cake
What you need:
  • 3½ cups of dried fruit*, chopped
  • 1 orange (zest & juice)
  • ½ cup just boiled water (or optionally use brandy or whisky)
  • 3 tablespoons macadamia nut oil*
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp honey, warmed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp powdered ginger
  • ⅛ tsp allspice*
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 cup of nuts*, chopped
What to do...
  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C.
  2. Place the dried fruit in a bowl, add orange zest and the orange juice then add ½ cup of just boiled water and leave to soak for around 10 minutes. (Or if using alcohol then can heat on stove top.)
  3. While fruit soaking, place eggs, oil, honey and vanilla in a bowl and whisk lightly to combine.
  4. In another large bowl, combine almond flour, spices, baking powder & salt.
  5. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Then add the dried fruit mixture and the nuts and fold to combine.
  6. Spoon mixture into a 20cm tin (grease with butter or oil or line with baking paper or silicon). Cover top with foil covering top so it doesn’t burn on top.
  7. Cook for approximately 1 ¼ hours or until skewer comes out clean. (Suggest one hour covered then 10 minutes uncovered.)
  8. Leave to sit for 10 minutes then turn out of pan.
  9. Brush lightly while still warm with macadamia oil (or butter if doing dairy or whiskey or brandy).
  10. If desired, brush top with warmed jam glaze and arrange extra dried fruit and nuts on top.
  11. Serve immediately or rap a clean cloth around the cake to prevent it drying out before storing in an airtight container in fridge for up to a month.
  12. Cut with a hot knife.
Chef Dom's Tips:
For the dried fruit we suggest using a mixture of figs, cranberries, currants, raisins prunes and apricots – we used figs, cranberries and apricots. Try to find dried fruits without additives/preservatives. Great choices for nuts are pecans, walnuts or macadamia. If you love spices then you can definitely up these – say ¼ teaspoon each of clove, nutmeg, ginger & allspice or variation thereof. Use butter if you prefer and can tolerate dairy. You can also add ¼ cup of glace cherries for the ultimate in Christmas tradition but I'd really recommend that if you do that you find a good home made recipe or hunt down preservative free ones.