Classic Old-fashioned Gingerbread cake that is vegan, oil-free, whole grain and out of this world delicious, moist and full of amazing flavor from cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and molasses.
PREP TIME15 mins
COOK TIME25 mins
TOTAL TIME40 mins
1 1/2 cups (192g) spelt flour
1/4 cup (40g) brown rice flour
2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons gingerbread spice (SEE NOTES AT BOTTOM)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (240g) pure maple syrup, room temp
1 cup (240g) unsweetened applesauce, room temp
1/4 cup (80g) unsulphured molasses (do not use blackstrap or sub!)
2 tablespoons (30g) HOT water
You will need a whisk for this cake to ensure a perfectly smooth batter. A spoon will not incorporate the batter well and will affect the texture. Please know that this cake I tested around 10 times to get it just right, so I cannot stress enough the importance of following the recipe and weighing your ingredients for accuracy. I cannot vouch for results if you sub flours or liquids. The molasses and applesauce are magical for flavor and moisture here and cannot be subbed or the cake will not be moist.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and line an 8×8 square pan (I used almuminum) with parchment paper strips going in each direction, cut to fit and with overhang (not bunched in the corners). If you want to make muffins, use 14 parchment liners.
To a large bowl, add the spelt, rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda, spices and salt and whisk very well.
Make sure none of your liquids are cold before proceeding, otherwise your batter will not be smooth or mix well. To the same bowl, add the syrup, applesauce, molasses and hot water. Whisk gently in large circles until everything is combined and smooth, making sure to get the flour at the bottom, but DO NOT over-mix. As soon as it’s smooth, stop mixing. Over-mixing the batter can make the cake dense and the center SINK. Now, taste that batter and tell me it’s not out of this world!
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top and evenly to the corners. Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes or when a toothpick is completely clean. Each trial mine was exactly perfect at 25 minutes on the dot. If making muffins, divide the batter between 14 liners, this will yield the perfect size. Bake the muffins closer to 20-22 minutes, being careful not to over-bake.
Cool the cake completely in the pan for a minimum of 1 hour, no exception. This allows the cake to completely cook through. There is a lot of applesauce and moisture in this cake, so you don’t want to cut too soon or it will be wet. Once ready to serve, lift the cake out with the parchment flaps. Use a very sharp knife to cut carefully into slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar right before serving. The cake is so moist that you don’t want to do the sugar until right before serving or else it just melts into the cake.
I recommend making my Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix for this cake since I tailor made it for it. You can also keep the blend on hand for making this cake often, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. Or you can use a store-bought blend, just make sure it is one containing cloves!
If you don’t want to make my whole blend, then for this recipe, you can just add 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (use 1/4 tsp for a milder flavor) and 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
REGULAR FLOUR: To make this with regular white all-purpose flour, sub the spelt and brown rice flours with 1 3/4 cup white all-purpose flour and weigh if possible for best results. You will need 224 grams of the all-purpose flour. Please note that the texture will slightly be more chewy (less soft/tender) because of the higher gluten content than spelt and brown rice flours, but will still be a delicious cake. Be careful to not over-mix the batter. You will reduce the cornstarch to 1 tablespoon (this is your egg). The spelt/rice flour really is the most perfect texture, so getting that would be ideal but the white flour does work well.
GLUTEN-FREE: To make this gluten-free, sub the spelt flour for superfine GF oat flour (I tested with Bob’s Red Mill) and it will be the same weight amount (192g). DO NOT USE a store-bought all-purpose GF blend in place of this oat flour version, that was not tested, ONLY oat flour was and it keeps this recipe moist and very similar to the spelt version. All blends perform very differently. Since oat flour cakes tend to be more dense, you will decrease the applesauce by 2 tablespoons. All the rest of the ingredients remain the same. Please note that the oat flour version is not as light/fluffy and is more dense, so is ONLY recommended if gluten-free is required. It is still delicious, just not as perfect of a texture as the spelt version.