Make your own sugar free Christmas Cake

Cutting out sugar from your diet can be good for you. But when you are surrounded by Christmas treats and feasts it can be a difficult time for those who don’t eat sugar. However, there’s no need to avoid the festivities because it’s possible to create dishes and desserts that are sugar free and can be enjoyed by all.

Angelique Ruzicka asked Jason Whitehead, a private chef who has 20 years’ worth of experience in the food industry, for his tips and advice on how to make your own sugar free Christmas Cake. Here he imparts with his own recipe and tips on how to survive the festive season.

Chef Jason Whitehead admits that Christmas time always gives him butterflies in his tummy.  But he loves it because it’s a time of giving, appreciation and sharing quality time with friends and loved ones.  He feels there’s no reason for stress if you prepare for the silly season in advance.

“Planning and preparation are key. I always ensure that I order my free-range meats from my local butcher in early December (know where your food comes from); start making my refined sugar-free Christmas cake weeks before hand (you need to constantly douse your cake with as much brandy as it can handle every week) and generally try and do my gift shopping from October already, as I avoid shopping malls like the plague from the 1st of December.”

While Whitehead recommends dousing the cake with brandy for up to four weeks, it doesn’t have to be for that long: “Christmas cake is like a good red wine – you can drink it immediately, but it gets better with time. It can easily be done in two weeks, or even one week for that matter.”

Whitehead says that before he changed his life by cutting out sugar, he would get excited about the trifles, Christmas pies and the abundance of chocolates.  “My trick now is to make sure that I make all the sweet treats myself (telling the family that I have puddings sorted) and not tell them that they are sugar-free.  Most of the time they don’t even notice, which makes me feel like I have given them more than just materialistic gifts, but also the gift of a healthy food,” he says.

Christmas Cake recipe (sugar free)

Makes: 2 x 22inch cake tins
Prep time: 3 days soaking and 40min prep

400g Butter
300g Xylitol
6 free range eggs
300g Health Riot’s Cassava flour
Pinch of salt
500g Sultana’s
500g Raisins
250g Cranberries
60g Chopped fresh cherries
200g Chopped almonds
1tsp All spice + 1tsp Mixed spice + 1/2 tsp Ground ginger powder
45ml Blackstrap molasses
3tbsp raw honey
750ml Brandy plus another 200ml brandy plus more for dousing.

  • Another alternative is to use dried figs, apricots and peaches. You can really mix it up and use any dried fruit you prefer


  1. First put all your sultanas, cranberries and raisins in a big glass jar or bowl and add your bottle of brandy. Close the lid tightly and soak for 3-5days. Mixing it once per day.
  2. Once your soaked fruits are ready and you are going to bake, line your cake tins well with wax paper on the bottom as well as the sides.
  3. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  4. Beat the butter and xylitol until creamy in a very large bowl.
  5. Add each egg separately and beat until the mixture is stiff.
  6. Stir in the sifted flour and salt to your butter mixture, then add your soaked fruits and cherries, chopped nuts, spices, molasses and honey.
  7. Mix very well and transfer to your lined baking tins.
  8. Bake for one hour at 170 degrees Celsius. After one hour, reduce the heat to 120C and bake for 30min longer.
  9. Allow the cake to cool fully before removing from the tin (I like to leave it overnight in the switched off oven to cool if I baked during the evening).
  10. Remove from cake tins and wrap in cling film. Pour a small amount of brandy over the cake once a week to keep it moist.
  11. After a week or two of feeding your cake with the brandy, ice as desired – marzipan is always a good option.


About Jason Whitehead:

Jason Whitehead (pictured below) has made his mark on the Cape Town food industry with more than 20 years of experience working at some of the city’s leading eateries. He’s a private chef and culinary consultant for various eateries and product distributors/manufacturers countrywide.

Jason launched his own restaurant, Fréres Bistro in March 2013 before selling it in June 2015.  Fréres Bistro was ranked in the top 20 of over 1,000 restaurants on TripAdvisor.  It was also the first restaurant in South Africa to offer a Low Carb High Fat menu for guests following the Banting lifestyle.

His latest cookbook, co-authored by globally recognised Nutritional Therapist, Sally-Ann Creed, Tasty WasteNOTS, was launched in September 2016. The 224-page soft cover book, published by NB Publishers, can be purchased online via Takealot, Loot, Exclusive Books, Raru, Graffiti books as well as Jason’s own website or and at all good bookstores.

Jason Whitehead

Jason Whitehead