Christmas Cakes
December 19, 2017 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I am not cooking the meal this year, but am in charge of desserts. I have celiac disease, so cookies are difficult, but I can usually easily convert cakes to gluten free. Does anyone have any Christmas cakes they love?

I'll probably do Bakewell tarts for Christmas (because yum they are so so good), but we'll also have a dinner on Christmas Eve. Family favorites? I've done Ocracoke fig cake before and loved it - there are little kids, so probably not an assertively spiced gingerbread. Well-equipped kitchen and good cooking skills, so difficult recipes are fine. Please suggest away! Other dessert options are fine as well...I have a post-holiday office party in January at lunch so need ideas for it, too.
posted by OneSmartMonkey to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I know you're after cake tips, but I'm also a celiac and my cookie secret is to replace the flour with GF flour and then add xanthan gum. It's expensive, but you never need a lot, one tsp per batch is usually more than enough, and it has all the properties of gluten that GF cookies batters lack- stickyness, cohesion, fluffiness... no more crunchy puddles.
posted by Warmdarksky at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

These are the best peanut butter cookies I've had in my life and they happen to be vegan and gluten free. Hopefully peanuts are okay for the little kids.
posted by TORunner at 10:41 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I make this cake. It's pretty easy to make if you have a good springform pan.

Honey Almond Cake (no flour - just eggs, honey and almond flour)

I like to make mine with lots of lemon zest and then put berries and whipped cream with it. I've also used orange marmalade on top. But you can add different spices to it, it's pretty much a blank slate. Save the recipe and make it for Passover.

The cake doesn't look like much, so I advise some sliced almonds or a handful of berries on top with a dusting of powdered sugar for decoration.
posted by typetive at 10:43 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Heck, I say embrace the ban on gluten and just pick a cake that doesn't use any flour in the first place.

But I say this because flourless chocolate cakes are a thing. People who are not quite so fanatical about chocolate as I may disagree. fortunately there are other kinds of flourless cakes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding a flourless chocolate cake, or you might like Nigella Lawson's Clementine cake
posted by Mchelly at 10:50 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

This orange cake seems weird but is really great and is GF (as long as you use GF baking powder) - you need a springform pan, FYI.

I serve it with this citrus cream.
posted by vunder at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2017

This is my go-to Christmas cake. I have made it probably 5-6 times and it is completely delicious and looks beautiful.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:53 AM on December 19, 2017

This is the cake you want. It is designed from the start to be made without flour of any kind.

[That photo is wrong; it will actually look more like this.]

It's light and rich at the same time, very chocolate and yet not too chocolate, and moist without any frosting. It looks impressive on a plate even though it's not that hard to make. The only powdered ingredient is cocoa. It's mainly composed of eggs (6, but I use 7-8 egg whites) and cream (1.5 cups) and cocoa (I always add extra, and leave out the coffee) and sugar (confectioners' and regular). It is also absolutely delicious and I'm pretty sure it's responsible for my relationship.

I've cooked a lot of things, but when I want to impress people, I serve this. It's also pretty easy to make.

I suggest practicing on one, since a) it can be easy to slightly scorch the roll part, and b) you'll be sad to share so much of the one you bring to share.

Also: it's intensely chocolatey, and I've experienced a slight bit of caffeine reaction (i.e., wakefulness / cheerfulness), so be careful if that's an issue for you.

Only downside: a little difficult to transport, but not impossible at all. If you're driving with another person, the easiest thing to do is assemble immediately before departure, cover it with a towel and hold it in the passenger's lap. If you're driving solo, you can pack it carefully and it will be fine (remember: no frosting to mess up).
posted by amtho at 10:57 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Gingerbread, which is really more like cake, is very Christmas-y.
posted by theora55 at 11:01 AM on December 19, 2017

We made this peppermint-chocolate cake one year and it is AMAZING. You could sub in any favorite white and chocolate GF cake recipes that you know work well for you, and then add the peppermint flavor and marshmallow frosting.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2017

A shortcake part-baked then topped with whipped egg whites and mincemeat and cranberries (mincemeat as in English spiced dried fruit mix) is instant Christmas for me.
posted by kadia_a at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2017

This prune cake always tastes like Christmas to me: Spiced Prune Cake - Mausi's Mum - so good! (Scroll down past the cake, the muffins and the dumplings, the recipe is at the bottom of the posting.)
posted by amf at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2017

Yes! I am obsessed with this fruitcake/Christmas cake which is really more fruit than cake and really more of a custard anyway. It does have flour in it, but I also cannot eat gluten and have successfully switched it out both last year and this using whatever flour I have laying around. This year I gave cakes out as my edible Christmas gift to friends and it went over really well.

It does say that it should sit for a month in its brandy-soaked-cheesecloth cover, but that's not necessary; it's delicious right from the beginning. If you do want to make one for your January lunch you can totally have it sit and rebrush it with brandy every so often it would be ready right on time.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2017

I made the New York Times Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread by using Namaste GF flour in place of regular flour. It came out perfectly and it is quite delicious.
posted by plinth at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2017

Chocolate roll is straightforward, nut-free and flour-free. It freezes well. Most kids love it.
posted by JawnBigboote at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Sri Lanka Christmas cake recipe from Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook is amazing (and a lot of work and fairly expensive and makes a big cake). I’ve done it with ground almonds substituted for the semolina, and it comes out great. It’s just a dark fruitcake, but a very superior one.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:17 PM on December 19, 2017

Definitely look into flourless tarts and tortes before trying to convert cake recipes to be GF.

My personal favorite are flourless chocolate tortes which rely on eggs for volume and often ground almonds for structure. I like the recipes from a book called "Pure Chocolate".
posted by tuffet at 2:06 PM on December 19, 2017

GF sweets I've added to my usual (already nut-free for several family members) Christmas cookie roundup: Meringue puffs (double-duty dessert--you can use the yolks to make custard!). Peppermint bark is dead simple--basically just melt white chocolate with a little peppermint extract, add some crushed up candy canes, pour onto a cookie sheet and let it set up, then just break it into pieces. Fudge is a good indulgent sweet, and it can be flavored with peppermint or vanilla or what have you for variety. Caramels and divinity candy are always fun, and pretty easy so long as you have an accurate candy thermometer. If you're not nut-free, there's peanut brittle, popcorn balls, pralines...
posted by lovecrafty at 2:25 PM on December 19, 2017

There is so little flour compared to fruit/butter/egg/spice/etc in a traditional christmas cake that I'm pretty sure you could take any off-the-shelve recipe, sub in almond flour (or any other GF flour) and have it basically work fine. In fact, I bet almond flour would taste better, too...
posted by parm at 2:50 PM on December 19, 2017

These "Ugly but Good" cookies are naturally gluten-free and my absolute favorite.
posted by exceptinsects at 3:58 PM on December 19, 2017

I believe we do the Mary Berry Christmas cake. The BBC has a gluten free recipe as well.

(Sultanas are golden raisins. Treacle is non-blackstrap molasses, I believe.)
posted by hoyland at 6:13 PM on December 19, 2017

How about the traditional Australian christmas dessert - Pavlova . Only needs the gluten free version of cornflour. Looks pretty spectacular and is reasonably light (though very sweet).

Start the "Aussies stole pavs from Kiwis" debate
posted by trialex at 1:59 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I came into suggest the orange cake that vunder linked. It is a thing of magic. I like it with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Some recipes recommend boiling a whole orange but some have you chop up the orange and simmer it gently with a little water. It takes less time. I do that.
posted by bunderful at 3:44 PM on December 21, 2017

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