I haven’t always been a huge fan of gingerbread. Sure, I enjoyed gingerbread cookies as a kid and had one during the holidays here and there. They just weren’t part of our holiday baking adventures as a kid. We made spritz cookies, rosettes (deep-fried dough that’s bound to burn the crap out of you), no-bake peanut butter chocolate cookies, and even peanut brittle a few years using my Grandma’s famous recipe.
Gingerbread – especially of the traditional cake variety – is something completely new to me. In fact just a few years ago, I had never even tried it. My first year as a corporate employee, one of my coworker friends started chatting about holiday goodies and how her all-time favorite recipe was her mom’s homemade gingerbread. I remember sitting there staring at her thinking “they’re just cookies, right?” But she went on to explain that it was actually more of a cake than a cookie. I was enchanted and she agreed to bring it to our holiday party that year.
After my first bite of that gingerbread, I was pretty smitten. It tasted JUST like the cookies, but with a more fluffy and moist texture. I loved it and for years have thought about making my own version. Which is what brings me to today’s post. I scoured online looking for a gluten-free recipe for classic gingerbread and found just a few that met the qualifications.
The one I stumbled upon that seemed to have the least amount of ingredients and the most ones I had on hand was this one, which is precisely the recipe that I have adapted to be even a little healthier. For my simple healthy swaps, I traded out the butter or vegan butter for unsweetened applesauce and the refined sugar for coconut sugar, which has plenty of minerals that refined white sugar doesn’t have and also has a lower glycemic index – keeping your blood sugar from spiking tremendously.
Don’t get me wrong – there is no way that this cake is certifiably “healthy” – it’s cake, it’s not supposed to be. But with a few healthy swaps, us gluten and dairy-free folks can enjoy our classic gingerbread just like everyone else!
Health(ier) Classic Gingerbread Recipe
Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan option
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 egg or flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water)
- 1/2 cup mild molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 8 x 8 pan.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, cream together applesauce and coconut sugar. Add egg and beat well. Add molasses and beat to combine.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon, and whisk to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Add boiling water and beat just until smooth, scraping sides once if using stand mixer. Batter will be thin.
- Place in pan and bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pan on rack.
- Serve warm or cool with coconut whipped cream.
Are you a classic gingerbread lover?
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