This vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake is a gingerbread that everyone can enjoy! A perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.
Vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake has become a part of my annual holiday traditions. I’ve given it to many loved ones as a December treat. Everyone loves it, which means that the many trials I went through to get the recipe right were worth it.
Better yet, it’s a gingerbread that everyone can enjoy, since it’s both vegan and gluten-free. It’s also nut free and optionally soy free—a win for households in which common food allergies are a concern.
Beyond that, the cake has it all: it’s moist, sweet, and spiced. The perfect thing for a snack, dessert, or to savor with a cup of tea or cocoa in the winter months.
I admit, I’m biased in favor of gingerbread, and this one is no exception.
There is no shortage of great dessert options during the holiday season. But gingerbread is probably my favorite.
I love the richly spiced fragrance, the depth of flavor, the deep golden color. I love an excuse to use molasses!
There are a few types of molasses—light, dark, and blackstrap—and you could use any of them in this recipe. I like the more mild and sweet flavor of light and regular dark molasses, and they make a golden colored cake.
For the most nutrition benefits, though, blackstrap molasses is the best choice. It’s a nutritive vegan sweetener, full of iron, magnesium, and potassium.
I use blackstrap molasses in these snack balls, in my pumpkin gingerbread spice muffins, and in my holiday molasses ginger cookies. I’ve even added it to vegan enchiladas.
Molasses can be a little polarizing, flavor-wise. Some people love it, some people can’t stand the way it tastes. I love it in gingerbread, but I generally use it in small doses. Here, I use only 1/3 cup.
And I sometimes make the cake a little less molassas-y by using three tablespoons of molasses and two tablespoons of maple syrup instead. Lyle’s golden syrup and Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup are wonderful substitutes.
Just as there are competing opinions on molasses, there are many different opinions on what makes great gingerbread.
Some people prefer a dense, sticky gingerbread. Some prefer it to be lighter. There are people who go very heavy on the ground ginger, and others who use less.
This is a delicate gingerbread. I use a teaspoon and a half of ground ginger. It’s enough for the ginger to be prominent, not so much that the cake is assertively spicy.
I do, though, sometimes kick up the ginger taste by adding finely diced, crystallized ginger to the batter. It’s a fun addition, and it adds some texture contrast. Though I also love the cake in its plain, classic form.
As for texture, this is a light gingerbread. The center will feel a little moist and dense, but it’s still decidedly cake—not pudding.
I usually bake this cake in a traditional, 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square baking dish. Then, I cut it into squares.
The cake can take other shapes and forms, though. I’ve also made it in a 9-inch cake pan (this one is my go-to). The gingerbread also makes 3-4 perfect mini loaves, which are very cute for edible gifting.
If you make it in mini-loaves, be sure to reduce the baking time to 25 minutes.
There are so many good, all purpose, gluten-free flour blends for baking these days. King Arthur’s Measure for Measure is my favorite by far, and I always keep some at home for when I bake GF for friends or clients.
Even so, there’s nothing quite like a homemade gluten-free flour blend. Making one at home allows for use of one’s favorite GF flours (mine are sorghum, millet, and chickpea).
And I think that flour/starch blends tend to work much better than the use of a single, gluten-free flour.
All of my favorite GF baked goods, including this gluten-free gingerbread cake and these espresso brownies, call for a blend of flours. I often add a starch as well.
Here, I use potato starch and xanthan gum to create a perfect, non-crumbly, non-gummy texture—without gluten or eggs!
If the recipe as written calls for too many ingredients that you don’t have, you can use two cups of your favorite, store-bought, gluten-free flour blend.
And of course, if you don’t avoid gluten, you can use two cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour as well.
It’s best to store the gingerbread cake at room temperature for up to a few days (3-4). It’ll dry out in the fridge. If you don’t think you’ll eat it within that time, you can freeze it for up to six weeks.
I usually wrap the cake in cling wrap or store it in an airtight container to help it stay moist while I work on finishing my slices 🙂
There’s nothing like a simple, homey, unfussy dessert during a busy season. Yes, I love chocolate pear cake. I love pumpkin pie. I adore chocolate mousse pie, and cherry hand pies are a good project.
But there’s nothing like gingerbread.
I hope you’ll love this vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake, and that it’ll add some cheer (and some delicious smells) to your kitchen this holiday season.
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This is an amazing recipe. I have had to go gluten-free and so miss my regular vegan baking. Now I have a good sponge recipe and that opens up the world of baking for me again. I used grated apple and gf flour. My omni housemates love it too 🙂
Hooray! I’m so glad you like it 🙂
Delicious! I made this with 1.5 cups Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 and 1/2 cup coconut flour (instead of chick pea). I didn’t have apple sauce, so I shredded a medium-sized apple. It came out great! Next time I may try nut flour instead of the coconut. I think this may be my new favorite baked treat!
Really glad you enjoyed it, Katy!
What can I use instead of potato starch please …I am gluten free ..thanks
I may be mistaken, but I think that potato starch is gluten free! You can use tapioca starch in its place, though 🙂
I’d love to try this recipe; is there anything I can use in place of applesauce?
Sure! You can try pumpkin puree or prune puree.
This cake is so amazing! I’ve made it with my 3yo daughter three times already this month and am about to do it again. I’ve been substituting bob’s Red Mill all purpose gf flour for the chick pea flour and potato starch. I add the brown rice flour as written. Fantastic recipe!
I am gushing over this recipe right now!! Achieving the perfect vegan gingerbread recipe is challenging! I love the addition of crystalized ginger!
Can I use 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour blend in places of the flours/starch/gum?
Natalie, you definitely can. I find that using one’s own mix of flours and starches can create more precision, hence why I did so here, but I’ve had great results with Bob’s AP GF flour on the whole. Let me know how it goes!
Thank you. I think I might use Spelt flour (I don’t require it be gluten free) like you suggested because I was unable to find potato starch!
This looks wonderful and may be perfect for a company potluck party next week, thanks!
I hope it’s a huge hit!
THIS! I’m in love! This is my first Christmas having to be gluten and dairy free, so I’ve been struggling with choosing what to make! This is first on my list now!! 😀
I can smell it already Gena!! Looks wonderful too!! I’m a gingerbread lover from way back. So neat that this will be on the menu in your favorite NY cafe! Congratulations!! (Third time’s a charm, yes??) xoxo
This looks just divine – I love ginger! Have you tried freezing it? I am thinking of making it now for Xmas but not sure if it will freeze well or not (would it dry out?).
Hannah, I can’t answer with 100% certainty because I haven’t tried it. But I’ve generally had quite good luck freezing muffins and loaves, and I think the mini-loaves in particular would freeze well. Proceed at your own risk, but I’m hopeful! And I hope you love the recipe 🙂
Delicious!! Gingerbread anything is a win in my book. I don’t have much experience with gluten-free baking but this looks like a good start!
Looks like a wonderful cake. And gingerbread really is a heavenly dessert. And I just love that you put crystallized ginger in the bread too! That sounds really delish!
Gingerbread is my favourite festive flavour too! This look so dark, sticky and spicy it’s making me want to curl up on the sofa with a slice and a mug of Earl Grey tea.
This looks amazing! I love baking with chickpea flour!