The Best Ever Vegan Fruit Cake

As a Portuguese, I’m connected to our traditions. They not only shape my identity but in my specific case, they tend to influence my recipes. 😆

One of our people’s cherished treats, especially around Christmas, is the “bolo rainha” or “Queen’s cake”, a unique fruit cake, known for its blend of raisins and assorted nuts.

It’s traditionally not a vegan cake because it’s made with eggs and dairy, but my vegan version is definitely like the real thing! It might take a little extra time to prepare, but it’s totally worth it, believe me!

Let me present you with our unique vegan fruit cake.

📝 Ingredients You’ll Need

Fortunately, despite being a very traditional cake here in Portugal, it uses ingredients that you can pretty much find anywhere else in the world as long as you’ve got a supermarket.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Soy Milk: Think of it like a creamy, plant drink that adds a light sweetness and smooth feel to your cake.
  • Yeast: This cool ingredient wakes up the dough, making it fluffy and soft.
  • Sugar: Just a little bit to make it sweet, but not too much, so it brings out the flavors of everything else.
  • Flour: It’s the main part of your cake, mixing everything into a nice, soft texture.
  • Potato Starch: Adding a bit of this makes the flour even softer and the cake a tad more tender.
  • Fine Salt: A small sprinkle to cut the sweetness and make all the flavors pop.
  • Cinnamon: It adds a nice, spicy taste that makes you feel cozy.
  • Turmeric: A little bit of this gives a light earthy taste and makes the cake look golden— kinda making up for the lack of eggs.
  • Margarine: It gives the cake a rich, buttery feel that makes it really yummy.
  • Vegan Port Wine or Brandy: Adding a bit of these drinks makes the cake taste deeper and kind of fruity.
  • Lemon and Orange Zest: They add a fresh, tangy kick that balances out the rich taste and makes each slice better.
  • Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts): Each kind of nut has its own crunch and flavor, like the strong walnuts or the smooth cashews, which adds a nice contrast.
  • Raisins: They bring little sweet and chewy bits that make the cake even better.

🥮 How to Make This Delicious Fruit Cake

To make this fruit cake, I started by mixing warm soy milk, yeast, and a bit of sugar in a bowl. I waited a few minutes to let the yeast get going. It was good to go when it got frothy, showing that the yeast was working.

Next, I added the rest of the sugar, melted margarine, orange and lemon zest, and Port wine (or brandy) to the yeast mix. I mixed them until they were all blended. The zest gave a fresh zing, and the wine brought a deep, rich taste.

In another bowl, I put together the flour, potato starch, fine salt, cinnamon, and turmeric. This mix of dry stuff was the base of my cake, and each part added to the taste – the cinnamon and turmeric bringing in warm, spicy flavors.

I slowly mixed the dry stuff into the wet stuff, stirring a lot. It was key to mix it well to keep it smooth and lump-free.

After mixing, I kneaded the dough until it was soft and stretchy. Even though I already used 530 grams of flour in the mix, I used an extra 35 grams while kneading.

To see if it was done, I did the windowpane test: I took a little bit of dough and stretched it out between my fingers. If it could stretch thin without breaking, sort of like a windowpane, then it was kneaded just right.

I let the dough rise in a warm spot without any drafts. This usually takes a while – the dough should get about three times bigger. This slow rise is really important for getting the right flavor and texture.

To help it rise, and you can try this too, I put a container of hot water in the oven. Then, I put the dough on a tray above it, covered with a cloth. This way, the steam from the hot water helped the dough rise.

After the first rise, I folded the dried fruits (nuts, raisins, etc.) into the dough and kneaded it for a couple of minutes. Once incorporated, I let the dough rest for an additional 15 minutes. This step infused the cake with a variety of textures and flavors from the fruits.

I made the dough into a ring shape (we call it “rosca” in Portuguese) by making a hole in the middle with my hands. I put a small cup or ring in the center to keep it open during its second rise. This shape is traditional and helps it cook evenly.

Before I baked it, I spread melted margarine on top and added some dried fruits for decoration. This made the cake look really good and gave it a tasty, buttery crust.

Then I put the cake in my already hot oven for around 35 minutes. The time it takes can be different for each oven, so I watched it closely. I wanted the crust to be golden brown and made sure not to bake it too long to keep the cake from drying out.

Once baked, I removed the cake from the oven and let it cool. After cooling, I brushed the cake with agave syrup for a slight shine and a touch of sweetness and sprinkled lots of powdered sugar across its surface.

And there you have it, a delicious vegan fruit cake that is ready to be enjoyed and share with those whom you love!

📔 Additional Tips:

  • In this recipe, I picked Port wine because it’s sweet and has yummy flavors like berries, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate. If you can’t find Port wine, which is a special drink from Portugal, you can totally use Brandy instead. People will traditionally use Brandy in this cake too.
  • Try out different stuff when you make this cake. I stuck to the classic way, but you can mix it up. Like, you could put in chocolate, the crystallized fruits, or even different dried fruits, maybe pistachios or dried coconut.
  • You gotta really watch this cake when it’s baking. You want the top to be like this pretty golden color, but don’t let it bake too long or it’ll get all dry. Usually, it takes about 30-35 minutes, but it kinda depends on your oven. So, keep an eye on it!
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vegan fruit cake

The Best Ever Vegan Fruit Cake

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  • Author: Cláudia Reis
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Enjoy our Portuguese-style fruit cake with a hint of cinnamon and dried fruits. It also includes a lemony and orangy zing and a hint of Port wine for a special flavor. The cake is wholesome with the inclusion of crunchy walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and sweet raisins. Every bite is full of deliciousness, perfect for any event or celebration.


Units Scale
  • 230 grams soy milk
  • 30 grams fresh yeast (or 11 gr dry yeast)
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 100 grams vegan margarine (plus extra for brushing)
  • 30 grams vegan Port wine or brandy
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • 530+35 grams flour
  • 30 grams potato starch
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 270 grams dried fruits (plus extra for decoration)
  • agave syrup (for brushing, optional)
  • Powdered sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  1. Combine warm soy milk, yeast, and a spoonful of sugar in a bowl. Set aside until the mixture becomes frothy.
  2. Add remaining sugar, melted margarine, orange and lemon zest, and Port wine to the yeast mixture. Stir well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, potato starch, fine salt, cinnamon, and turmeric.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring continuously.
  5. Knead the dough, gradually adding more flour if needed, until soft and elastic.
  6. Allow the covered dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it triples in size. For assistance, place the dough in an oven with a tray of hot water underneath.
  7. Fold dried fruits into the dough after the first rise. Knead briefly and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Shape the dough into a ring (rosca), by opening a hole in the middle, and place a small cup or ring in the center to keep it open during the second rise (where the dough should double in size).
  9. Brush the top of the cake with melted margarine and decorate with some dried fruits.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 350ºF or 180ºC for about 35 minutes or until golden-brown.
  11. After baking, let the cake cool. Then brush with agave syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


  • Depending on the type of ingredients you use (flour type and even brand), you may need more or less flour. I started with 530 grams and added another 35 while kneading. After about ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be soft and elastic— not sticking to the surface.
  • I created my own dried fruit mix using 70 grams of walnuts, 50 grams of cashews, 50 grams of laminated almonds, 50 grams of hazelnuts, and 50 grams of raisins. Depending on how you like it, you may add more or less dried fruits to the dough. I roughly chopped the nuts before incorporating them into the dough but that’s optional.
  • I used the hot water method for rising the dough, which took about 1h30m for the first rise and 1 hour for the second rise.
  • The purpose of this recipe was to create one big cake for Christmas but you can make it smaller by cutting the ingredients in half. 
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Cuisine: Portuguese

🙏🏻 Before you go, I’ve got a favor to ask!

I’d love to get your feedback on this recipe! Feel free to leave a comment below detailing your experience— and let others know how you feel about it!

Of course, you can also ask any questions you may have about the recipe— and we’ll try to respond ASAP.

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