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If you’re after the perfect gluten free fruit loaf recipe then say hello to my gluten free tea loaf cake.

This tea loaf cake – which is gluten AND dairy free – is the perfect treat for an afternoon tea.

Dried fruit is soaked in strong, black tea, then added to this dairy free mixture and baked slowly to produce a tasty cake which is perfect slathered in butter.

It tastes amazing with a cuppa and reminds me of the fruit cakes my grandma used to love!

Gluten Free Tea Loaf (Fruit Cake)
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What is a gluten free tea loaf?

A gluten free tea loaf is a very traditional, old-school English cake, baked in a loaf tin.

The tea loaf gets its name from the fact the dried fruit in it is soaked in strong tea before the cake is made.

Ideally you would soak the fruit overnight, but you can leave it until the tea goes cold, or for a couple of hours, if you’re pressed for time.

The tea gives the cake a really subtle flavour as you pour the whole lot – liquid and all – into the batter.

It also gets absorbed by the fruit so it plumps up and becomes nice and juicy. 

Traditionally a tea loaf is served sliced with a slather of butter. As this recipe is dairy free, you could switch this for your usual dairy free butter equivalent!

Either way, it makes for a lovely treat in the afternoon, of course served with a nice steaming mug of tea alongside it!

gluten free tea loaf recipe

Which fruit goes into a tea loaf?

Most of the tea loaf recipes I’ve seen use just raisin and sultanas.

However, I had a few other bits in the cupboard so decided to experiment – and was very happy that I did so!

I added some chopped prunes which I think gave the cake a lovely rich taste, as well as a nice fibre boost.

I also chucked in some chopped apricots to add a colour variation – and because they taste so good.

I think glacé cherries would also be a really good addition to this, and something I’ll definitely try next time.

Most dried fruits will work well, and if you only have raisins and sultanas don’t worry, it’ll still be delicious!

gluten free tea loaf recipe

How do you make a gluten free tea loaf?

This recipe is actually incredibly easy to make as you basically mix it up in a bowl then bake in the oven… sorted!

First you’ll need to soak your fruit in hot tea – this is the most important part.

I used three tea bags to create a super strong tea, and then ideally you’ll use it to soak the fruit overnight.

If you don’t have enough time than an hour or two will suffice, as long as the tea is cold when you add it to the mix.

Once you’ve soaked your fruit it’s just a case of adding the other ingredients to a mixing bowl, beating it all together and baking.

This is a long slow bake, so you’ll need to give it at least an hour, but it will make your house smell just incredible.

gluten free tea loaf recipe

Ingredients and substitutions

The full printable recipe card is below, but for the shopping list you’ll need to get hold of the following:

  • 100g raisins or sultanas (or even mix of both)
  • 50g prunes
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 3 tea bags
  • 200g self-raising gluten free flour
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 orange (zest only)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Most of these ingredients are storecupboard basics, but I do have a few notes on why they’re included and any substitutions.

Many of you ask me if the xantham gum is necessary in my recipes if you use a flour with it already added in.

The answer to this is ideally, in this case, yes. The xantham gum helps to add extra texture to the cake and hold the fruit in place so it doesn’t sink to the bottom.

I always use FREEE by Dove’s Farm or more recently Asda’s gluten free flour – these both have xantham gum in them but I would still recommend adding it if you can.

I used normal tea for this recipe, but you could use earl grey if you like, or even something like a spiced or ginger tea for extra flavour.

The orange zest and mixed spice add a lovely warming flavour to the cake, though you can omit either if you have a real aversion.

I’d recommend using vegetable oil in this as a different oil may produce a different texture or make the cake heavy or greasy. It also keeps it dairy free!

gluten free tea loaf recipe

Tips for the perfect fruit loaf

My number one tip for this recipe would be to make it a few days before you actually want to eat it.

I know, it’s a big ask when your house is filled with the tantalising smells of freshly baked fruit cake.

But this cake actually improves over time so if you can bear to make it and not touch it for a few days, it’ll be worth it.

Because of the lack of fat in the recipe, it also keeps really well.

If you can store your gluten free tea loaf in an airtight container it should keep for a week or two.

That way you can slice of a little bit each time you need a sweet treat and it’ll keep you going for ages!

gluten free tea loaf recipe

My gluten free tea loaf recipe

This gluten free tea loaf recipe is made in a 2lb loaf tin and makes enough for around 12 slices.

You’ll need to soak the fruit overnight if you can, but definitely until the tea goes cold.

This tea loaf is both gluten and dairy free and is best made in advance so the flavours can mature.

If you make this recipe and love it, please do let me know by tagging me on my Instagram or using #theglutenfreeblogger. I love seeing your bakes!

And please do leave a review to let others know you loved it too! It would mean the world to me. 

gluten free tea loaf recipe
Yield: 12

Gluten Free Tea Loaf

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This gluten free tea loaf is a great fruit loaf recipe. Dried fruit is soaked in tea before being baked into a gluten and dairy free cake. Total time does not include the soaking of the fruit, which should ideally be done overnight.


  • 100g raisins or sultanas (or even mix of both)
  • 50g prunes
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 3 tea bags
  • 200g self-raising gluten free flour
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 orange (zest only)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Place the tea bags in a jug and pour the boiling water over. Leave the tea to brew for 10 minutes.
  2. Chop the prunes and the apricots into quarters. Once the tea has brewed, leave the tea bags in, pour the fruit into the jug and stir. Cover and leave ideally overnight - or for at least an hour or two. You want the tea to be cold before you make the cake.
  3. When you're ready to make the cake, preheat the oven to 180'C / Fan 160'C / Gas Mark 6. Line a 2lb loaf tin with a loaf liner or baking paper and set to one side.
  4. Add the flour, xanthan gum, mixed spice, sugar and orange zest to a large mixing bowl and stir well.
  5. In a separate small bowl or mug, crack the eggs and add the oil. Lightly beat together and then pour in to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it forms a thick batter.
  6. Remove the tea bags from the fruit and discard. Pour the fruit and leftover liquid into the cake batter and mix well until completely combined. Pour into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
  7. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. It should be a lovely golden brown colour and have risen slightly. Check the cake after around 45 minutes and if it is starting to darken too much on top, cover with some foil.
  8. Cool the cake in the loaf tin before serving - can be served while still slightly warm or completely cool. Slice and slather with butter to serve. Store in an airtight container.


  • Because of the lack of fat in this recipe, it will actually keep for a lot longer than a standard cake. The flavour also improves over time so it's worth making in advance!
  • This cake will keep for several weeks in an airtight container - slice when needed. You can also freeze slices and defrost when needed.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g

Need some more gluten free baking inspiration?

Want to have a go at some of the other gluten free baking recipes on the blog?

Give some of these other gluten free sweet recipes a try!

There are plenty to choose from – here are a couple of autumnal baking ideas to get you going:

If you do make this recipe please let me know! I’d love to see your photos using #theglutenfreeblogger, share them in my Facebook group or tag me on Instagram. 

And if you have any recipe suggestions, please let me know in the comments what you’d like to see next!

Like this Gluten Tea Loaf recipe?

Make sure you pin these recipe cards below for later! Do head over and follow me on Pinterest too for more gluten free recipe inspiration.

Gluten Free Tea Loaf (Fruit Cake)
Gluten Free Tea Loaf (Fruit Cake)
Gluten Free Tea Loaf (Fruit Cake)

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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. How much boiling water do I use for the GF Tea Loaf?
    It says to put left over liquid into cake mix but could be too much??

    1. Really good! The best gluten free recipe and version of this I have made! I added some glacé cherries and a dram of amaretto!

      Wonderful for our 3pm tea & sweet treat! Thank you.

  2. Absolutely lovely, I made it once for my gluten free grandmother, and am just about to make it again! Great recipe x

    1. I heard that to 1 cup of plain gf flour, you add 2 teaspoons of baking powder, to make it self-raising flour. I hope that helps. Have a good day.