Christmas Cake - spiced pear & hazelnut - vegan

vegan christmas cake spiced pear boiled.jpg

If you love Christmas cake that is plump full of fruit, studded with nuts, and with a delicate spiced flavour running through each luscious mouthful, then this recipe for a delicious fruit cake is for you. Based on a traditional boiled fruit cake recipe, where the dried fruit is simmered with spices and syrup, before adding the remaining ingredients, this recipe is not only dairy and egg free, but it's also a one dish preparation. Yep, just a large saucepan and a trusty wooden spoon is needed - no mixer required. 

Use your favourite dried fruits in the mix - anything from sultanas, cranberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, raisins, prunes or whatever you love most. I used dried pineapple, apricots, raisins, sultanas and cranberries - which mingle beautifully with the crunchy hazelnuts. 

Adding fresh pear not only cuts down on the added sugar required, but gives the cake a lovely moistness. 

Spiced Pear & Hazelnut Cake (vegan) 


  • 1 kg mixed dried fruit

  • 500 ml water

  • 1/2 cup golden syrup (or treacle, or brown rice syrup)

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

  • 1 pear, finely diced (skin on but seeds removed)

  • 1 tablespoon ground dried ginger

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 cup port (or brandy, or any fortified wine of your choice)

  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts, skin on

  • 4 teaspoons ground flaxseed

  • 225 ml water

  • 2 teaspoons bicarb soda

  • 500 gm spelt flour (wholemeal)

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 cup port (or brandy, or any fortified wine of your choice)


  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

  • Line a 22 cm cake tin with baking paper and set aside.

  • In a very large saucepan, mix the dried fruit, 500 ml water, golden syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, diced pear and spices. Bring to the boil, then turn down low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until slightly syrupy and the pear looks a bit soft.

  • While the mixture is simmering, mix the ground flaxseed and 225 ml water in a small jug and set aside to thicken to make "flax eggs".

  • Turn off the heat and allow the fruit mixture to cool slightly. (About 30 minutes.)

  • Stir in bicarb soda, and be prepared for a fair bit of fizzing! (Thus the very large saucepan.)

  • Stir through the flax egg mixture, which should now be gloopy.

  • Mix baking powder into flour and stir gently.

  • Stir hazelnuts and flour into fruit mixture, and mix well but gently until no lumps of flour remain.

  • Scoop into the lined tin and bake for 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 150 degrees C and bake for 1 more hour. Insert a skewer, and if it comes out cleanly, the cake has baked for long enough. If so, turn off the oven but leave the cake in the oven so it can cool in the tin. (If cake mixture sticks to the skewer, bake for a bit longer until it's clean.)

  • When properly cold, remove the cake from the tin, and carefully pour 1/3 cup port over the top, allowing it to seep in through any small cracks.

  • Either ice with marzipan, glaze with melted apricot jam, or eat just as it is. Enjoy!

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This cake gets moister and more complex in flavour as it ages, but because it's made with a boiled fruit cake method, it's also perfect to eat when freshly baked. If you make this in early December, and keep feeding it a sprinkle of port every 3 days, it will happily keep till Christmas Day. But then, with a cake this good, it's the perfect treat to serve all the many guests who drop in over the gorgeous lead up to Christmas - when the jacarandas are dropping velvet petals like purple snow, the hydrangeas are starting to bloom, and there's an unmistakable air of Summer holidays just around the corner. It truly is a magical time of year! 

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Vegan Spiced Pear and Hazelnut Christmas Cake Recipe Idea