Spicy Gingerbread Cake

For just about my entire life, I have never been much of a cake person. Most cakes, in my opinion, were dry, and much of the store-bought variety had tooth-achingly sweet frosting. Mostly, I preferred pies and cookies as my desserts of choice. For most every birthday, my Mom would instead make me an angel food cake, one of the only cakes I truly liked.

Fast forward to gluten-free adulthood. During my adult life, I’d managed to enjoy a few other cakes that I rather enjoyed, but I didn’t really spend much time thinking about cake until I went gluten-free. And then, suddenly, cake seemed like a good idea! Not only good, but great!

Only now, cake wasn’t so easy. Oh sure, there are mixes out there, and some aren’t half-bad. But if I’m going to make cake, I want it to be superb. Heavenly. It doesn’t have to be all dolled up with frosting, or even have to be complicated at all. But it has to deliver.

So here we are, and it’s almost Christmas. I’ve seen gingerbread everything around lately, and the allure of those spices were calling my name. So I set to work making a gingerbread cake. The first rendition failed – it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to relish. I wanted a cake I would be glad to share with family and friends alike. So after more trials, I arrived at this.

A gingerbread cake so light, airy, but yet full of rich molasses flavor and spicy cinnamon and ginger. I was amazed that I could make such a light cake with only one egg, but there it was in all its glory. With a sprinkle of powdered sugar, it was definitely fit for any holiday get-together. Personally, I could see it being the perfect little treat after dinner, in front of a fire with family, a cup of coffee in hand (decaf for me, thank you!).

If for some reason you don’t manage to finish it all, don’t despair. Because, you see, my friends, this cake does double-duty. Leftovers can be made into fancier holiday fare. Stay tuned, for more gingerbread goodness is to come!


Spicy Gingerbread Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

½ c tapioca starch

¾ c teff flour

¾ c brown rice flour

1 ½ t guar gum

1 ½ t baking soda

½ t baking powder

1 T cinnamon

1 T powdered ginger

¼ t ground cloves

½ t salt

1 c raw turbinado sugar (or coconut sugar)

6 T blackstrap molasses

½ c maple syrup

1 large egg, room temperature

10 T vegan butter, room temperature

1 c water

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine the tapioca starch, teff flour, brown rice flour, guar gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, Add the sugar, molasses, maple syrup, egg, and vegan butter. Turn on food processor to blend, stopping to scrape down sides. Add the flour mixture and continue to blend. Last, add the water and pulse to incorporate at first. It will be lumpy to start, but once you’ve pulsed the food processor a few times, then turn it on to blend the water in completely. Blend until smooth.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth it out. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle powdered sugar over for serving.

You are welcome to try to remove the entire cake from the pan, but personally, I enjoyed slicing it directly in the pan, and serving the slices straight from there.


  1. Susan Feurtado says

    Which other flowers can I use instead of teff and can I substitute Xanthan gum instead of guar gum.
    Sounds wonderful and not just for Christmas.

    • altawrites says

      Susan – I love the “flowers” vs. “flours”. I have typo issues like that all the time. You could substitute brown rice flour or buckwheat for a similar texture, although the flavor will differ some. And yes you can substitute xanthan gum just fine.

  2. says

    ooh, I LOVE gingerbread! So I’m curious, I’ve still never tried teff, any hints as to what it is like flavor and performance-wise? Is it similar to buckwheat at all?

    • altawrites says

      Alisa – it is a very fine flour that just begs to be in cakes. It’s not strongly flavored like buckwheat, but it has a bit of an earthy flavor that lends itself well to dark breads, cakes, especially chocolate. You can sub it with fine brown rice flour or buckwheat for similar results (but different taste).

  3. Sandy says

    Is there something I can use instead of the egg? I don’t use egg replacer from the store. Most of my gluten free recipes do not use eggs.

    • altawrites says

      Sandy – While I have not tried any of these alternatives myself, I’m sure you could make a flax or chia gel egg in place of the egg in the recipe. Basically, you whisk together 1 tablespoon of ground flax or ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of hot water and allow it to gel for a minute. That’s my best guess – come back and let us know if that works, if you try it!


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