Gluten Free Clementine Cake

Posted on Dec 8, 2013

I wanted to create a gluten free rich fruitcake that could be enjoyed by all my gluten intolerant friends real and virtual 😀

I ended up with an amazing rich, moist fruitcake that was bursting with bright citrus flavours and had a real festive feel to it. So instead of making a Christmas cake this year I’ve decided to make this amazing cake instead. It’s that good!

Alternative Christmas cake

clementine cake

I never thought a cake without flour could be this good. I love traditional Christmas cake, but my mum’s is always the best so instead of trying my hardest and no doubt failing to recreate it, I have decided to go in a totally different direction. The flavours of this cake are so festive anyway it will make a brilliant Christmas cake alternative, and the added bonus is it’s gluten free 😀

There is also a small splash of booze in this, which is always a good thing in a fruitcake, especially one to be used as a Christmas cake. There’s only 3 tablespoons of rum but I understand people with children may not be comfortable allowing their kid’s to consume a slice of cake with a touch of booze in it, so just simply substitute the rum for fruit juice instead.

clementine cake

How’s it gluten free?

As a flour replacement I used polenta (cornmeal) and I also used gluten free baking powder. Now don’t panic at that last ingredient as all major supermarkets now stock gluten free baking powder.

clementine cake

If you could imagine a clementine in cake form then you are pretty close to imagining what this cake tastes like. Each bite is bursting with the unique flavour of clementine, fresh, zesty and so naturally sweet.

clementine cake

It does take a little bit of advanced planning as some of the steps do take a bit of time.

clementine cake

This cake has 4 whole clementine’s simmered for an hour until they are soft and tender and then pureed in it. And it’s topped with candied slices from another 4 clementine’s that’s a whopping 8 clementine’s that’s a lot of lovely citrus punch.

clementine cake

Making the candied slices takes another hour. The way I made this cake was to prep all the fruit the night before so I could crack on with making it with everything at hand the next day.

clementine cake

Once all the Clementine’s have been prepped it’s a pretty easy cake to make everything in one bowl mixed then baked. Simple!

You don’t have to save it for Christmas

You don’t have to use this cake as a Christmas cake; it just makes a great alternative to one. Its lighter its not covered in marzipan and tooth achingly sweet icing!

clementine cake

How about you?

Do you have a tried and tested Christmas cake recipe that you use time and time again?

Or are you more like me changing your mind each year and always experimenting?

Let me know what side of the fence you fall on traditional versus experimental.

clementine cake

Gluten Free Clementine Cake

Gluten Free Clementine Cake, a rich fruit cake bursting with flavour, makes a wonderful alternative Christmas cake but perfect for any time of the year.
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Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Author: Emma


For the cake

  • 4 small clementines
  • 200 grams Unsalted butter ((7/8 cup))
  • 140 grams raisins ((5/8 cup))
  • 140 grams sultanas ((5/8 cup))
  • 140 grams currants ((6/8 cup))
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum ((use fruit juice if you prefer))
  • 200 grams soft dark brown sugar ((1 cup lightly packed))
  • 3 large eggs - beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 140 grams medium ground polenta (cornmeal, (3/4 cup))
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons Icing sugar (Confectioners sugar - to decorate, most are gluten free but check your packaging)

For the topping

  • 4 small clementines - sliced
  • 140 grams granulated sugar ((5/8 cup))
  • 120 milliliters water ((1/2 cup))


  • Place your 4 clementines (whole and un peeled) in a small saucepan and cover them with water. Bring them to the boil and then simmer them for 1 hour. Strain them and leave them to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 4.
  • Lightly grease a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  • Cut your cooled boiled clementines, keeping the peel on in half and pulse in your food processor until they are finely chopped but not quite pureed.
  • In a jug combine all your dried fruit give them a quick mix and then add the rum if using if not add your fruit juice. Place aside.
  • In your mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until pale and light.
  • Add a little of the beaten egg at a time until all the egg is combined.
  • Add the polenta and baking powder to the creamed mixture and fold in.
  • Add the dried fruit and rum (or juice) to the cake batter and fold in.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin, level out the top and pop into the oven.
  • After 30 minutes you need to reduce the temperature of your oven to 160C / 315F / Gas mark 3
  • And continue to bake your cake for a further 40 minutes. For the final 20 minutes keep a close eye on your cake if its starting to look brown enough on top cover it with tin foil and continue baking for the full amount of time.
  • Once the time is up take your cake out of the oven and allow it to remain in its tin to cool for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes gently remove the cake from its tin and allow it to fully cool on a wire rack.
  • While your cake is cooling you can be prepping the candy clementine slices.
  • Add the sugar and water to a medium sized pan and gently heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring often. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer.
  • Slice the clementines thinly about 5 millimetres thick and place them in the hot sugar syrup and allow them to simmer for an hour.
  • You are waiting for them to go translucent and glossy.
  • After the hour carefully remove the slices and allow them to cool on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  • Dust the whole cake with icing sugar and arrange the clementine slices slightly overlapping over the top of the cake.
  • This cake should keep for up to 2 weeks, when kept in an airtight container.
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    • Hi Jan, thank you I am sure you will love it when you try it 😀

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  1. It looks good but how do you keep this moist and not so fruity. Can I use coconut flour in this cake too?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Ruth, if it has too much fruit in it for you, you could try reducing it a bit as for the coconut flour I don’t see why you couldn’t use it but I haven’t tried it so I am not sure of the result you would get. If you give it a go let me know how it turns out 🙂 Because this cake has so much fruit in it, especially from the clementines it stays pretty moist for a long time, but keeping it in an air tight tin will help keep it moist for longer.

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    • Hi Jan, thank you very much for your kind words 🙂

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  2. Hi,
    This Gluten free cake looks yummy and fabulous. Your detailed directions and tips are so greatly appreciated! I would love to try this at Christmas. Nice write up..!
    Thanks For Sharing…

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Chrish, thank you so much. Though not strictly a Christmas cake it does make a wonderful and far quicker alternative especially if you know someone who is gluten intolerant. I hope you give it a go 😀

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  3. Now this looks like my kind of fruit cake, moist and fabulous! And your candied clementines are the perfect garnish 🙂

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    • Hi Liz, thank you very much it is a lovely cake and perfect for any time of the year, I just wish clementine season was all year round 🙂

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  4. Hi,
    This looks Yummy. I wish to try this for this Christmas 🙂 i hope my kid too love this cake. Thanks for sharing this.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jacob, thank you I am sure you will love it as your Christmas cake and I am positive your kids will love it too 🙂

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  5. Uh just one question. Peel the clementines before cooking or cook them whole and unpeeled.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Terry, sorry it wasn’t clear I’ll change it to make it so. When you cook the clementines you cook them with the skin on as you puree them with the skins to include in the cake. Thanks for bringing this to my attention 🙂

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  6. Lovely looking cake, as for what side of the fence I am on its got to be traditional for me. I just love it and its only once a year that you have a cake with marzipan and icing, well at least only once a year in my house 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Mike, thank you very much. There is nothing wrong with being on the side of tradition the only reason I don’t tend to make a traditional Christmas cake is because I never think I can make one as good as the one my mum makes 🙂

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  7. Wow, this cake looks stunning Emma! My son and I adore clementines and I love that this cake is bursting with so much fresh citrus flavour! This cake sounds delicious and can’t believe it’s gluten-free too, lovely recipe Emma 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Kelly, thank you so much 🙂 I’m sure you and your son would love this if you are clementine fans, it really keeps the flavour of the fruit so well. I love citrus flavour and was so pleased to really capture it so well in a cake.

      Post a Reply
  8. Looks lovely. Never thought of using cornmeal instead of flour.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Dan, its a great substitute I used medium ground for this cake as I wanted a corse grain but you can buy really fine ground cornmeal which would work well in a sponge cake for a more delicate crumb.

      Post a Reply

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