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Christmas Black Cake: A Healthier Twist on a Classic

Let the the season for Christmas Black Cake begin!. With December fast approaching, our minds turn to the delightful treats that make the holiday season truly special. From the aromatic Ginger Cookies to the irresistible “alfajores,” “Cola de Mono,” and “Enguindado,” these delicacies hold a special place in the hearts of Chileans and every family with their treasured recipes, some passed down through generations. In fact, my own family has a recipe for “alfajores de chancaca” that dates back to colonial times. What amazes me is that despite their universal appeal, we limit ourselves to enjoying these treats only in December. Perhaps we indulge a little too much during this month, only to spend the next eleven months seeking redemption. However, I am ready to challenge that tradition and savor these delights for a longer period, or even dare I say, throughout the entire year. Let the festivities continue!

One Dilemma of December Delights lies in the fact that many of these delectable treats are made with ingredients that pose a challenge for me. Wheat flour, butter, milk, and caramel—four ingredients that harbor three poisons: gluten, lactose, and sugar. In my case, these ingredients, among others, trigger an inflammatory reaction that wreaks havoc on my health. Unfortunately, I am not alone in facing these struggles, as many others also experience similar effects on their well-being.

Driven by this very reason, I embarked on a journey to craft relatively healthier renditions of these beloved December delights. When I say relatively, it means I will steer clear of the ingredients that adversely affect me personally. However, I acknowledge that the substitutions I make may still pose challenges for others. After all, it’s impossible to cater to everyone’s dietary needs and preferences.

Xmas Cake or Black Cake?

My journey began with a mission to recreate my beloved “Pan de Pascua” (Xmas Cake), a lifelong favorite that unfortunately wreaks havoc on my system with its gluten, lactose, and sugar content. As my tastes evolved over the years, I joined the ranks of those who prefer this delightful cake without the addition of candied fruits. I’ve always questioned the quality and excessive sugar found in those fruits anyway.

Now, let’s dive into the heart of the matter. My initial attempts with gluten-free flours were disastrous, leading straight to the trash. Determined to find suitable alternatives, I replaced lactose-laden butter with vegetable oil. After extensive research and numerous taste tests, I managed to create a Pan de Pascua that boasts impressive flavor. While I didn’t eliminate sugar entirely, I did reduce it by 50% and incorporated fruit puree and a touch of stevia to achieve the desired sweetness.

Curious about the additional ingredients? For the flours, I expertly blended rice flour, carob flour, cocoa, and a mixture of starches. And let’s not forget the delightful elements that we all relish: almonds, walnuts, sultanas raisins, currants raisins, rum, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and the essential essences of anise and orange. Yes, you heard it right—rum takes center stage, as I let the currants raisins marinate in it for a week, infusing the cake with the divine essence of rum-soaked raisins… hic… just the way it should be enjoyed.

Keep in mind that this recipe demands careful planning and preparation, as it involves multiple ingredients. You may find it beneficial to prepare some components in advance, allowing you to spread out the workload and avoid tackling everything in a single day. Let’s delve into the details.

Gluten-free Flour Mix

After numerous tests, I arrived at a simple yet effective combination of flours for this recipe. I opted for rice flour, whether white or whole, depending on your preference for a touch of extra fiber. Both variations yield the same result. To enhance the texture and flavor, I incorporated 6% of carob flour, roughly equivalent to two tablespoons. I find carob flour particularly appealing as it belongs to the legume family, boasting protein content and a rich array of vitamins and minerals. Notably, its dark brown hue and cocoa-like taste make it an ideal substitute for cocoa in desserts, especially for those with cocoa intolerance.

Given the potent flavor of carob flour, moderation is key. I recommend following the recipe as is for your initial attempt and then adjusting the amount of carob flour according to your personal preference.

Moving on, I employed a carefully crafted blend of starches. This starch mix has become a staple in my sweet dough recipes, consistently yielding a softer texture compared to using a single starch. Through extensive experimentation, I discovered this invaluable technique, which I delve into further in my artisan bread guide. However, if you don’t have access to all three starches, fear not. You can use two or even just one, and the cake will still turn out beautifully. I encourage you to explore and experience the subtle differences by preparing the recipe with varying combinations of starches.

Binding Agent

For this recipe, I rely on a combination of binders, mainly 2.2% Psyllium husk and 0.2% xanthan gum. If you’re already familiar with these ingredients, feel free to adjust the quantities to suit your preference. However, if you’re new to them, I recommend starting with these specified amounts. I personally favor Psyllium for its distinctive granular texture, which beautifully complements the Christmas cake experience. A small amount of xanthan gum adds just the right level of flexibility to prevent the cake from crumbling easily.

It’s important to avoid exceeding or using smaller amounts of these ingredients, as they play a vital role in achieving the perfect cake texture. If your digital scale lacks precision for measuring small quantities, you can approximate 8.3g of powdered Psyllium husk to be around 1.5 teaspoons, and 0.6g of xanthan gum to be approximately 1/4 teaspoon.

Sugar vs Sweeteners

While the recipe is originally formulated with sugar, you have the flexibility to replace it with your preferred sweetener. I have personally tested Erythritol and Allulose as suitable alternatives, and they yield satisfying results. It’s important to research the appropriate replacement ratios to ensure the sweetness level is just right and not overpowering or lacking in flavor.

Personally, I opt for a slightly reduced amount of sugar rather than using artificial sweeteners. I’ve experienced digestive issues with various artificial sweeteners, and extensive research has raised concerns about their potential harm to the body. I believe these sweeteners are not entirely harmless products. The long-term effects of saccharin and aspartame on the population are only becoming apparent now, and it’s likely that the impacts of recently emerged sweeteners will be uncovered in the next 20 or 30 years. Given my skepticism, I choose to abstain from consuming them altogether.


Tangzhong, a simple and effective Japanese bread-making technique, works wonders in creating irresistibly soft and fluffy dough while retaining moisture for longer-lasting freshness. Known as the cooked starch method in the Western world, it involves combining one part flour with five parts water and cooking it over medium heat until it forms a creamy, porridge-like texture. The magic happens as the starch gelatinizes around 65°C (150°F). It’s crucial to avoid overcooking or boiling, as this can hinder its effectiveness.

Personally, I prepare Tangzhong using white rice flour once a week and store it in the refrigerator, where it stays good for up to 10 days. To do so, I whisk together 100g of white rice flour with 500ml of water and gently heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly while monitoring the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. I ensure it reaches the desired texture without surpassing 70°C (160°F), which typically takes around 3 to 5 minutes. If you only need a smaller quantity for a single use, you can adjust the ratio to 1 part flour to 5 parts water.

Flaxseed Gel

Here’s another fantastic technique that brings remarkable results in various bread and cake doughs, delivering both flexibility and fluffiness. My discovery of this method began while exploring potential substitutes for eggs or egg whites in recipes. While it may not work for creating meringues like aquafaba does, it certainly enhances the texture of the dough. The best part is that you can prepare this ingredient well in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days without any issues.

To create the gel, start by boiling flax seeds in water at a ratio of 1:15, meaning 15 ml of water for every 1 gram of flaxseeds. For example, if you have 50 grams of flaxseeds, you’ll need 750 ml of water. Simply place them in a pot, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, and stir constantly for about 5 to 8 minutes until the liquid reaches a gel-like consistency. While the gel is still hot, strain it using a stainless steel strainer. Once it has cooled, transfer it to a glass jar and store it in the refrigerator. You can discard the flaxseeds or keep them in water in the refrigerator for up to 10 days; they can be used for making bread or added to other recipes.

On a side note, I’ve come across many recipes online that utilize this flaxseed gel as a hair gel, particularly for enhancing curls, especially for those with curly hair. It’s believed to be nourishing and provides a silky effect… Yes, you guessed it—I’ve tried it too! While it did slightly gross me out, I must admit that my hair turned out quite well.

Organic Fruits Puree

This ingredient holds immense significance as it brings a delightful blend of flavor, fluffiness, and natural sweetness to your cake. Personally, I enjoy using a puree of dehydrated plums (prunes) that I prepare in advance for the Christmas season. However, feel free to explore various fruit puree options, such as apple, mango, banana, or even a delightful combination. Rest assured, they will work just as marvelously. Nowadays, you can find an array of organic, sugar-free fruit puree snacks in stores, which I’ve also tested in this recipe with outstanding results. Consider stocking up on a few to keep in your pantry for easy access whenever needed.

Flavourings, dried fruit and nuts

This recipe embraces the essence of Christmas with a delightful array of flavors, including the timeless combination of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and more. The addition of dried fruits, particularly walnuts and raisins, further enhances the festive spirit. These ingredients offer great flexibility, allowing you to tailor them to your personal preferences and dietary needs. Feel free to modify them according to your own criteria, ensuring a harmonious balance without overpowering any individual element. As always, I recommend trying the recipe as it is initially and then adjusting it to suit your unique taste preferences..

Preserving agents

In this recipe, I incorporate apple cider vinegar at a ratio of 6% of total flours. The acidity level works as a natural preservative agent. By increasing the acidity of the dough, it effectively extends its shelf life, preventing spoilage. Alternatively, you can also use lemon or orange juice, or even citric acid directly. As someone residing in the southern hemisphere, where Christmas falls in the midst of summer with average temperatures of 31°C (88°F), I find that this recipe, when stored at room temperature, remains fresh for approximately 5 days, and when refrigerated, for about 10 days.

In colder climates, you can expect the shelf life to be at least twice as long. Some individuals opt to utilize potassium sorbate or sorbic acid at a 0.2% concentration to further extend the longevity of these products, potentially up to 15 days. However, personally, I believe that if these treats are prepared for home consumption, there is no need to add chemical agents. They can potentially disrupt your intestinal flora, and prolonged consumption of such agents (as seen in various commercial bread and pastry products) may lead to significant long-term health issues.

Xmas Black Cake Recipe

Now that we’ve covered all, or nearly all, of the ingredients, it’s time to delve into the recipe. I invite you to give it a try and savor the delightful flavors it offers. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or constructive criticism, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. I sincerely hope you enjoy this recipe and create cherished moments with your loved ones.

Small image of a xmas Black Cake

Xmas Black Cake

Indulge in the delectable flavors of Black Cake, a delightful Christmas treat that is both vegan and gluten-free. This exquisite cake is crafted using a harmonious blend of rice and carob flours, complemented by an assortment of nuts, raisins soaked in rich rum, and a medley of fragrant Christmas spices. With this recipe, you can create a luscious 1 Kg cake, perfect for sharing among 14 eager dessert enthusiasts.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Coffee, Desserts, Tea time
Cuisine Christmas, Eggs free, Gluten free, No dairy, Vegan, Xmas
Servings 14 Slices
Calories 243 kcal


  • 1 Digital kitchen scale
  • 1 Medium-sized pot to prepare the Tangzhong. You can make it in advance, as mentioned in the post above.
  • 1 Plastic or stainless steel strainer, medium or large size.
  • 2 Bowls for 1.5 kg (~ 3.3 lb) One for dry ingredients and another for liquids.
  • 1 Hand whisk. You can use a fork as well.
  • 1 20 cm diameter cake mold (~7.8") It's important that it's suitable for accommodating a dough weighing 1.2 kg (~ 2.6 lb)
  • 1 1 kg cake doily (optional).
  • 1 Rubber spatula


Dry Ingredients

  • 160 g Rice flour. White or whole grain
  • 200 g Starch mix. (corn, potato, tapioca). Check notes in the post
  • 24 g Carob flour. Additional cocoa powder or starches can be used as substitutes.
  • 1 g Salt.
  • 11 g Baking powder.
  • 4 g Baking soda.
  • 8.3 g Psyllium husk powder. (equivalent to 1.5 tsp)
  • 0.6 g Xanthan gum. (equivalent to 1/4 tsp)
  • 9 g Cocoa powder.
  • 1 g Instant coffee powder.
  • 2 g Ground cinnamon
  • 1 g Ground ginger
  • 0.5 g Ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 g Ground cloves
  • 130 g Sugar. Or 13 g Allulose or 160 g Erythritol

Liquid ingredients

  • 80 g Tangzhong.| See instructions in the post above.
  • 120 g Flaxseed gel. See instructions in the post above.
  • 100 g Fruit puree See instructions in the post above.
  • 65 ml Melted coconut oil. Or vegetable oil.
  • 20 ml Apple cider vinegar.
  • 110 ml Plant-based milk. or light vegan cream.
  • 6 ml Xmas essence. Or vanilla essence or extract.

Nuts and dried fruits

  • 40 g Chopped walnuts
  • 40 g Chopped almonds
  • 60 g Rum-soaked Corinth raisins. Or soaked in water for at least 2 hours or over night.


  • After gathering all the necessary ingredients and materials for your recipe (Mise en place), it is recommended to preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and allow it to reach the desired temperature.
  • Prepare the cake mold by applying a thin layer of oil, followed by a light dusting of rice flour. For added convenience, you have the option to use a cake doily or parchment paper. If using paper, make sure to grease the inner surface as well, ensuring the cake doesn't stick.
  • To begin weighing the dry ingredients, position a bowl and a strainer on the digital kitchen scale, ensuring to reset the scale to zero.
  • Using the strainer, sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl, excluding the sugar. Remember to reset the scale after weighing each ingredient before moving on to the next one.
  • Thoroughly combine all the dry ingredients, including flours, starches, salt, binders, leavening agents, spices, and dry flavorings, using a hand whisk.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the sugar with the tangzhong, flax gel, and all the liquid ingredients. Stir until the sugar or sweeteners have completely dissolved.
  • Gently fold the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture until well combined.
  • Incorporate the walnuts, almonds, and soaked raisins into the mixture, ensuring they are well distributed. The batter should have a viscous consistency that is easy to pour and spread in the cake mold. If the batter appears too thick, it may indicate a need for additional liquid (such as plant-based milk) or an excess of dry ingredients.
  • Transfer the mixture into the prepared greased mold and gently tap it on the table a few times to remove any trapped air bubbles and ensure an even surface for the cake.
  • Put the cake in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 55 minutes. After closing the oven door, lower the temperature to 190°C (370°F)
  • After 55 minutes, perform a simple test by inserting a wooden toothpick into the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean and dry, the cake is ready. Otherwise, continue baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If the toothpick comes out clean, turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar to allow the cake to cool inside for approximately half an hour. Once cooled, remove the cake from the mold and let it further cool on a pastry rack if available.


Image of a small Black Cake covered in white fondant as a gift.Once the cake has cooled, you can enjoy it as is or enhance it by adding your favorite frosting and garnishing it with nuts, just like in the photo attached. Remember to indulge in moderation.
For a delightful pairing, you can enjoy it with my vegan “Cola de Momo”. Check out the following link for the recipe.
Nutrition Facts
Image of Black Cake Nutrition Facts Chart
Keyword Cake, Christmas, Dairy free, Gluten free, No Eggs, Vegan, Xmas

Namaste image

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