For anyone who secretly loves a northern hemisphere Christmas for the mulled-wine-by-the-fire type scenarios, this recipe is for you. It makes two layers of rich dark chocolate cake flecked with orange zest and the spices you’d expect to taste in your glass of mulled wine. Juicy blackberries cut through the intensity of the chocolate and add a glorious tang.
This recipe makes a vegan and gluten free cake - not for any other reason than this is how it tastes best! However, feel free to use plain white all-purpose flour instead of gluten free flour if you prefer (and if you are using gluten free flour, I recommend the self-raising Healtheries variety. If you choose to use one which is non-self raising, make sure to add 1 tsp of baking powder to the recipe!) If you don’t need the cake to be vegan, you can use regular milk in the cake, and regular butter in the icing. When it comes to the wine, use an inexpensive full-bodied red wine like syrah/shiraz. For depth of flavour, It’s super important to use the best Dutch process cocoa powder and 70% dark chocolate you can get your hands on.


180g light muscovado or soft brown sugar
180g gluten free flour (my favourite brand is the Healtheries self-raising one)
55g ground almonds
1 tsp baking soda
70g Dutch Process cocoa powder 
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch sea salt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
⅓ cup light olive oil or rice bran oil
½ cup almond milk, or any dairy free milk of your choice 
¾ cup full-bodied red wine
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
Zest of one orange 
75g 70% dark chocolate buttons
150g fresh or frozen blackberries 


40g 70% dark chocolate buttons
150g olivani, or similar dairy free spread
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt 


6 whole cinnamon quills
6 fresh Bay leaves 
Handful or fresh or freeze-dried orange segments (optional)
Handful or fresh or freeze-dried blackberries 

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C fan bake. Line 2 x 22cm cake tins with baking paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, gluten free flour, ground almonds, baking soda, cocoa powder, spices and salt.
  3. Gradually add in the vanilla extract, oil, almond milk, wine and vinegar. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Finally, by hand, fold through the orange zest and chocolate buttons.
  4. Evenly divide the batter between the tins and dot in the blackberries, pressing them down lightly.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a small glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, melt the chocolate. Take off the heat once melted and set aside to cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the Olivani by itself until smooth. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on high until seriously light and fluffy. Finally, fold through the cooled melted chocolate. The icing should be smooth, creamy and thick.
  7. Once the cake is fully cool, ice one layer and then place the other on top. Finally, neatly ice the top of the cake and decorate as desired.
  8. Serve at room temperature.
  9. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days.