If you’re a vegetarian cook, the chances are you’re already a fan of Rose Elliot.  Described as the Queen of vegetarian cookery, she has been publishing cookbooks since 1967 and is still evolving and still at the forefront of exciting vegetarian food.  In my home, her 1985 compiliation of recipes ‘Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook’ (re-printed last year) is my recipe bible and the first place I look when trying new recipes, or using a few old favourites. 

I’ve been making her Everything-less Fruit Cake for a few years and recently began experimenting a little with the ingredients, especially as I realised it was the kind of recipe that would work perfectly with gluten-free flour!  The original recipe is ‘everything-less’ because there are no eggs or dairy, no added fat and no added sugar, the sweetness all comes from the fruit.  It’s what my granny used to call a ‘heavy fruit cake’, meaning I suppose that it’s heavy on the fruit!  So it’s rather like a traditional Christmas cake, or even a tea bread that tastes great spread with butter.  Here, I’ve adjusted the ratios a little, so there’s slightly more cake and less fruit, and swapped some of the dried fruit for dessicated coconut.  Perfect with that afternoon cup of tea!

Everything-less Fruit Cake
Adapted from Rose Elliot

225g / 8oz dried, stoned dates
275 / 10fl oz water
350g / 12oz dried mixed fruit
50g / 2oz dessicated coconut
225g / 8oz gluten free flour (I used mix of Dove Farm white flour and buckwheat flour)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
grated rind of an orange or a lemon
4 tblsp orange juice
A few sunflower seeds or flaked almonds for the top

Set the oven to 160C (325F, gas mark 3).  Grease a 900g / 2lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment.

Put the dates and water into a saucepan and heat gently until the dates are soft, then remove them from the heat and mash the dates. 

Add the dried fruit, flour, coconut, baking powder, spice, grated rind and orange juice.  Stir well to combine the ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top and sprinkle with seeds or almonds. 

Cover the cake with tin foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Uncover the cake for the last 15 minutes or so to let it brown.  Cool a little in the tin before turning out the cake and cooling it on a wire rack.