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.


240g plain white all-purpose flour
70g ground almonds
100g cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground anise
Pinch sea salt
270g soft brown sugar
½ cup light olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
110g apple sauce
Zest of one large orange
1 ¾ cup full bodied red wine
160g fresh or frozen blackberries


80g Dark Chocolate, 70%
150g dairy free butter
120g 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 (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees. Line 2 x 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
  2. Combine the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt, making sure to get rid of all lumps.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, vinegar, vanilla, apple sauce, orange zest and red wine.
  4. Gradually mix wet ingredients into dry until completely smooth, but careful not to over mix.
  5. Evenly divide batter between the 2 tins, and dot the blackberries into the mixture, pressing them down lightly.
  6. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile, make the icing. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Once smooth, set aside to cool.
  9. In an electric mixer, beat the dairy free butter until smooth. Add icing sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat on high until seriously light and fluffy. Fold the cooled chocolate through the icing until smooth, creamy and thick.
  10. 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.
  11. Serve at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days.