vegan gingerbread recipe

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vegan gingerbread recipe | pamela salzman

Nothing says “holiday” to me like the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven.  I am crazy about that combination of molasses and fragrant spices that are quintessential to gingerbread.  I have made lots of different baked goods with this characteristic flavor — gingerbread pancakes, waffles, cookies, biscotti, and of course, the classic gingerbread cake, my most favorite of all.  I even make a pan of gingerbread for Thanksgiving as my official signal that the holidays have begun.  But my feeling is if you’re going to make gingerbread, you really need to go for it.  I use a heavy hand with the spices, especially, you guessed it, GINGER.  This recipe, I have to admit, is DELICIOUS.  It’s exactly what I want it to be — high-quality ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil, maple syrup and molasses that come together to make a moist, dense, intensely flavorful cake.  Daughter #1 said to me recently, “who knew gingerbread could be this good?”  Love her.

Actually, my whole family loooves this cake, even Mr. Picky whom I have caught more than once in the last month in the pantry with the door closed sneaking extra gingerbread.  The cake always gets eaten rather quickly at our house.  In fact, I should really adapt the recipe to fit a much larger pan.  The only time my kids didn’t like this was when I used blackstrap molasses.  I wanted to see if they could taste the difference which they did and said, “no, thank you!”  Molasses is the by-product of refining sugar and is sold in grades according to how much it as been boiled.  “Blackstrap” molasses is the result of the last boiling and thus has the most intense flavor and the highest mineral content.  I figured this was a good thing, but molasses is rather bitter and blackstrap molasses is way too bitter for my kids.  So I gave up a little extra iron and potassium for “regular” unsulphured molasses that would taste good to them.


During the holidays, I’m in the business of making people happy, which in turn makes me happy.  And this gingerbread does both.  Enjoy!


vegan gingerbread

Vegan Gingerbread
Serves: makes 18 muffins or 1 8x8-inch pan
  • ¾ cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
  • ¾ cup 100% pure maple syrup (Grade B is fine)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup melted unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease and flour an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. In a blender, combine the molasses, maple syrup, applesauce and coconut oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and spices.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes for muffins or 35-50 minutes (ovens vary wildly) for an 8-inch cake, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Sift powdered sugar over cake, if desired.
*Gluten-free version, substitute the following for the 2 ½ cups of wheat flour:

1⅞ cups brown rice flour (measure 2 cups, then take out 2 Tablespoons)

7 Tablespoons potato starch (measure ½ cup, then take out 1 Tablespoon)

2 ½ Tablespoons tapioca flour

1 ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

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  1. Danielle says

    Do you think it would work to do half whole wheat pastry flour and half brown rice flour, instead of all whole wheat? Can’t wait to try this out!

    • Pamela says

      I think it would definitely work, but I would add a little xanthan gum. Perhaps half the amount recommended at the bottom of the recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. shirin says

    Just made these in mini cake molds to give as holiday gifts. It was so moist and delicious! Thank you for the great recipe!

  3. Nikki says

    this sounds amazing! I’m looking forward to trying this. I was wondering- I love blackstrap molasses- if your tastebuds were used to the blackstrap, do you think that that might be a good choice? Also, since I’d be making a gluten-free version, but dont use the gums, I was wondering if I could mix the hot water in with the other liquids, to reduce the time between mixing and putting the whole pan in the oven (for the baking soda)? New to all of this…thank you so much!

    • Pamela says

      Hi Nikki! If you like blackstrap, go for it! It has more health benefits than regular, but most people find it too bitter. Unfortunately, I made the GF version without xanthan gum and it didn’t work — too dense and mushy. I don’t think adding the hot water quickly would solve the problem. I’m not an expert in GF baking, so unfortunately I don’t know how to make this without the xanthan gum.

  4. Lauren says

    Do you think I could fit this recipe into two paper loaf pans? Instead of an 8 x 8 baking dish? I am thinking about giving them away as gifts…so delicious!

  5. Rafaela says

    LOVED this…as did everyone. So delicious and not sweet which I like, also has a sort of chocolate cake quality….thank you once again for another brilliant recipe!

    • Pamela says

      I’m so happy to hear that, Rafaela! I think you’re right, it does have a chocolate cake-quality :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  6. Mia says

    Finally tried the gingerbread, and it was fabulous! The house smelled like “holiday” once again (without the work, enjoyable though it may be, of making Christmas cookies). I made the muffins and treated myself to a comforting snack with a cup of tea. Thanks again!

  7. Tina Brutsch says

    I made this for a party Saturday night and it was a hit. The cake is so moist and was so easy to make. I can’t afford to get hooked on these, but it could be easy.

    • Pamela says

      I am crazy for this gingerbread, too, and I find myself cutting little slivers during the day. Glad it was a hit at your party!


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