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Gluten Free Gingerbread Loaf

Gluten Free Gingerbread Loaf

This tender gluten free gingerbread loaf has the richness of molasses and just the right balance of warm spices. The outside of the loaf has the most delicate, delicious crust, and the inside is pure holiday warmth. Celebrate the season!

Partially sliced gluten free gingerbread loaf on a cutting board.

What is gingerbread?

Gingerbread is a category of baked goods that are made with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and sweetened with molasses and honey. I stick with a combination of cinnamon and ginger, since not everyone likes nutmeg and cloves, but you could also add a touch of nutmeg and/or cloves if you and all your eaters like them. 

It’s mostly associated with the fall/winter holiday season, which may be because of the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Of course, we can make a gluten free gingerbread house. And I think you should!

The origin story and association with the holiday season is kind of a chicken-and-egg question for me. One whiff of that gingerbread smell and I’ve got visions of sugar plums…

Gingerbread can be made moist, tender and cake-like, like this gluten free gingerbread loaf, our gingerbread cake, or gingerbread muffins. Gingerbread is also a really lovely flavor for all different kinds of cookies of the season, like our gingerbread men cookies. Clearly, I have a thing for gingerbread. It’s just so festive!

Raw and baked images of gluten free gingerbread loaf, pictured overhead.

Baking with molasses

Whenever I use molasses in baking, readers ask if they can use something else in its place, like honey. The answer is often “yes, but….” The recipe just won’t be the same without molasses, which adds flavor, aroma, and color. 

To give you some perspective, it helps to start with the difference between granulated sugar and brown sugar. Brown sugar is simply granulated sugar that has had molasses added to it (less for “light” brown sugar, more for “dark”). Molasses adds a touch of moisture to brown sugar, but more importantly a depth of flavor that you can’t get from granulated sugar alone. 

I bake with unsulphured molasses, which is considered to be the finest quality of molasses, produced after the “first boil”  of ripened sugar cane. It’s not expensive, regardless of how “fine” it supposedly is, and the brand I use is Grandma’s. It’s really worth buying a jar, which will last a long time since a little molasses goes a long way. 

Closeup image of a slice of gluten free gingerbread loaf, showing the tenderness of the crumb.

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy: There are two types of dairy in this recipe, buttermilk and butter. In place of butter, I recommend Melt brand vegan butter, or butter-flavored Spectrum non hydrogenated vegetable shortening. You should also be able to use half (42 g) Earth Balance buttery sticks and half (42 g) unflavored Spectrum non hydrogenated vegetable shortening. 

Since the butter is melted, you may be able to replace it with a neutral oil, but I don’t recommend it. Baking the batter for close to an hour with that much oil  would probably cause the bread to have an unpleasant oily smell. 

In place of buttermilk, you can use half non-dairy milk and half plain non-dairy yogurt. You can also use that same formula using dairy-containing ingredients if you can have dairy, but are just out of buttermilk. 

Eggs: There are 3 whole eggs in this recipe, which is past my limit of 2 eggs for recommending use of an egg replacer. If you did try to make this recipe egg-free, you can try 1 “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) for each egg in the recipe.

Corn: In place of cornstarch, try using arrowroot or potato starch. 

Molasses: Please see the discussion above about baking with molasses.

 


Whole, unsliced gluten free gingerbread loaf still in the baking pan.

Partially sliced gluten free gingerbread loaf on a cutting board.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 gingerbread loaf

Ingredients

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (84 g) unsulphured molasses

3 tablespoons (63 g) honey

2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a small bowl or medium-sized measuring cup, place the buttermilk, butter, eggs, molasses, and honey, and whisk to combine well. Set the wet ingredients aside. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined. The batter will be thick but soft.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer with a moistened spatula. Place the pan into the center of the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to bake until the loaf springs back when pressed lightly in the center and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (another 15 to 20 minutes). Do not overbake. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve.

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Ann Leach
    December 9, 2019 at 9:06 PM

    What size loaf pan is this baked in

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 10, 2019 at 11:09 AM

      As stated in the first line of the recipe instructions, it’s baked in a standard size 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan, Ann.

  • Lynn
    December 6, 2019 at 1:16 AM

    I made this a couple days ago. Before freezing it for later, I sliced off an end piece. Moist and delicious! I must admit to doing some flavor changes as I could not find my ground ginger. I used cinnamon, as suggested, and cardamom. It tastes great to me! It has a delicate and mild taste. I am truly not a gingerbread fan, nor am I wild about pumpkin pie. Hence, nutmeg is not a go to spice. This recipe was so adaptable to minor adjustments.

    The recipe is a definite keeper! Thank you!

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 6, 2019 at 7:44 AM

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Lynn! Spices are always easy to swap out in baking, and I’m really glad you found a mix that works for you.

  • elaine
    December 3, 2019 at 9:24 AM

    Hi Nicole,
    I would like to bake this gingerbread in small individual gift size pan. Can you help me with timing and would I need to change oven temperature?
    Thank you
    Elaine

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 3, 2019 at 11:39 AM

      I’m afraid I really don’t know, Elaine, if that would work. It will take some trial and error. Sorry!

  • Kris
    December 1, 2019 at 5:58 PM

    Love all your recipes! I’ve never made one that we didn’t all LOVE! Because we also have dairy-related dietary needs in our family, could I suggest that in the “print” mode of the recipe that your suggested replacements lists be part of the recipe? It would make baking without having to be online SO much easier! Thanks :)

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 2, 2019 at 8:30 AM

      Hi, Kris, thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so glad the substitutions section is useful to you. I’m afraid I can’t make that section part of the printable recipe as a matter of course, since it would just make the printable too long for everyone, but I will talk to my developer about creating a “notes” section where you could add those suggestions that are useful to your family.

  • Nickie BECCIA
    December 1, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    FYI most recipes that call for buttermilk always leave you with so much left over. I freeze it in ice cube trays which equal 1 oz. each, pop them in a zip lock bag and when needed just count out the ounces.
    Nickie

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 1, 2019 at 2:47 PM

      Thanks for sharing that, Nickie! I use it in so many recipes, so I don’t have that problem, but I could see where it would be a handy solution.

  • Juliann Bryant
    November 29, 2019 at 9:52 PM

    Lactose allergy in home as well as gluten issues…substitution for buttermilk?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 30, 2019 at 10:09 AM

      Please see the Ingredients and substitutions section of the post, Juliann.

  • Debbie
    November 29, 2019 at 11:57 AM

    Good texture but not the level of gingerbread flavor I was hoping for. Maybe some candied ginger or additional ginger would help

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 29, 2019 at 1:32 PM

      Most people (in my family included!) get turned off by too much sharpness from the ginger, but it sounds like you are different. Feel free, Debbie!

  • Heather
    November 28, 2019 at 11:03 PM

    Can I make this with regular flour

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 29, 2019 at 9:02 AM

      I’m afraid these recipes are gluten free only. I recommend checking out my friend Mel’s Kitchen Cafe blog for conventional recipes of all sorts.

  • Amanda
    November 28, 2019 at 10:27 PM

    Do you think I could replace buttermilk for almond milk ? I can’t have dairy.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 29, 2019 at 9:02 AM

      Please see the Ingredients and substitutions section for how to replace dairy in this recipe, Amanda.

  • Jessica
    November 27, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    It’s in the oven now and smells ahhhhhmazing! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 28, 2019 at 7:27 AM

      Yay, Jessica!!!! To me, gingerbread smells like home 🏡

  • Sylvia
    November 27, 2019 at 12:53 PM

    Do you think I could substitute splendid for baking in place of sugar?
    Thanks,
    Sylvia

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 27, 2019 at 1:18 PM

      Hi, Sylvia, you could probably replace the granulated sugar with a granulated sugar substitute, but I don’t know of a replacement for the honey or molasses, which are also both sugars.

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