Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cake

This vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake is a gingerbread that everyone can enjoy! A perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

Dessert plates with square slices of vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake.

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.

Gingerbread cake: my number one holiday dessert

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.

Getting the seasoning right for vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake

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.

A slice of vegan gingerbread cake is pierced with a fork, ready to be eaten.

Baking vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake

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.

A perfect gluten-free flour blend

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.

Storing vegan, gluten-free gingerbread cake

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 🙂

A zoomed in photograph of a vegan holiday cake, accompanied by a small serving fork.

A zoomed in photograph of a vegan holiday cake, accompanied by a small serving fork.
5 from 3 votes

Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cake

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 9 slices

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (90 g) chickpea flour
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) superfine brown rice flour (substitute sweet white sorghum flour)
  • 1/2 cup (96 g) potato starch (substitute tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as safflower or grapeseed
  • 1/3 cup light, dark, or blackstrap molasses (substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar or cane sugar)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped, crystallized ginger (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil and flour your baking dish(es).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, starch, xanthan gum, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the oil, molasses, vanilla, non-dairy milk, applesauce, and coconut sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk in even, circular motions, until the batter is smooth. Fold in the crystallized ginger, if using.
  • Pour the batter into your baking dish(es). For mini loaves, bake for 20-30 minutes, testing them with a toothpick at 20 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf emerges clean, they're ready. For a square cake, bake for 35-45 minutes, testing the cake at 35 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.
  • Transfer the cake(s) onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Several dessert plates are topped with squares of gingerbread and accompanied by dessert forks.

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.

xo

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    21 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    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!

  2. What can I use instead of potato starch please …I am gluten free ..thanks

    • Hi Jo,

      I may be mistaken, but I think that potato starch is gluten free! You can use tapioca starch in its place, though 🙂

      G

  3. I’d love to try this recipe; is there anything I can use in place of applesauce?
    Thanks!

  4. 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!

  5. I am gushing over this recipe right now!! Achieving the perfect vegan gingerbread recipe is challenging! I love the addition of crystalized ginger!

  6. 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!

  7. 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

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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!