Having a family member who has a dairy free diet, has prompted me to try many recipies over the year, some with disasterous results.
I have discovered that it is best not to try and use soya or sunflower products when making fruit cakes as the soft fats give at best a very crumbly texture or at worst a very dry cake. I would recomment always using a hard fat and the one that seems to work best is ‘Trex’. It is virtually tasteless and gives a moist, non crumbly texture. To overcome the fact that you will not be able to achieve that lovely buttery taste, I use double the spices and also a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Where the recipie calls for milk to give a soft dropping consistency, I use orange juice (freshly squeezed is best and you can use the grated peal in the cake.
I am confident that not only will be person who has a dairy free diet will love the cake, but that everyone else will be completely unaware of the fact that it is dairy free.