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Whether you like to decorate gingerbread men, build intricate gingerbread houses, or simply want a ginger-spiced bread loaf, gingerbread is a classic holiday dessert beloved by many.
Although gingerbread loaves typically contain wheat, we’re not going to let all of you gluten-free folks miss out on the cheery holiday fun—we’ve got you covered with a delicious gluten-free gingerbread loaf that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast or dessert!
How To Make a Healthy Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf
Here at The Nutrition Insider, we love to “healthify” typical desserts, drinks, or snacks that can get a tad too high in calories and sugar—and the gingerbread loaf is no exception.
Often seen nestled in the pastry case at Starbucks during the holiday season, the popular coffee shop’s Gingerbread Loaf contains 380 calories and 43 grams of sugar.
Our version, on the other hand, has just 217 calories and 13 grams of sugar.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, this gingerbread loaf could not be easier to make.
To make this gluten-free gingerbread loaf, simply mix the wet ingredients ( eggs, oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and applesauce) in a large bowl before adding in the dry ingredients (oat flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) and combining them well.
Then, pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined loaf tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean—easy peasy!
Most gingerbread loaves use a classic cream cheese frosting with powdered sugar. While that is fine if you prefer, an alternative spread of cream cheese or greek yogurt mixed with a little maple syrup works beautifully.
When icing a cake or loaf, let the loaf cool completely before doing so; otherwise, you’ll have a runny, yogurty mess on your hands. If you’re using a dairy-based icing, be sure to store it in the refrigerator to avoid spoiling.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf Ingredients
A mixture of ground ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon is essential for this recipe—after all, you can’t have gingerbread without ginger! You could also try adding a pinch of cloves or allspice if you want to increase the holiday spice factor even more.
Oat flour is a great substitute for all-purpose flour. Be sure to check that the oat flour is certified gluten-free if you are highly sensitive to gluten, as many oats are cross-contaminated with gluten due to shared processing facilities. You can also use gluten-free flour blends like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour—or if you are not concerned about gluten, you can try subbing for regular all-purpose flour. Don’t have oat flour? You can make your own by blending regular oats in the blender. It may not come out as fine as store bought but works just as well.
Applesauce is a classic baking tip to add moisture without the need for too much butter or oil. Although you may think adding applesauce will create a fruity flavor in your bake, don’t worry; that’s not the case!
We used two eggs in this recipe, which will help give the gingerbread a nice rise and a fluffy texture. If you need an egg-free recipe, you could substitute a flax egg. To make flax eggs, whisk two tablespoons of ground flax seeds with six tablespoons of water, letting it sit until it thickens.
Gingerbread needs a deep, rich sweetness. Often recipes will call for brown sugar or molasses (refined sugarcane). We like using maple, a natural sweetener, for its delicate flavor.
This is the fat in this recipe that, along with the applesauce, gives it a unique moistness. You’ll be surprised at how decadent this comes out! We recommend a flavorless/neutral oil. Steer clear of olive oil which has a distinct flavor profile that, while delicious, does not lend well to the gingerbread taste.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Some recipes use both baking powder and soda when an acid-based chemical reaction is necessary to provide rise. Baking powder helps it rise, while baking soda is needed to neutralize the acid and act as a leavening agent, which causes the batter to expand by releasing gas.
Last but not least, we’re big fans of using vanilla extract in baked goods recipes to add warmth and enhance the other spices and flavors—essentially, vanilla extract is the salt of the baking world.
Collagen Powder (optional)
For additional protein, you can add 1 cup of unflavored collagen powder to this recipe which would boost the protein content by 7 grams per serving. This will change the texture of the cake overall to a slightly less moist consistency but may be worth it to improve the overall macros of this recipe.
Gluten Free Gingerbread Loaf
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup applesauce
- ⅔ cup maple syrup
- ⅔ cup neutral oil (we used avocado)
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup unflavored collagen powder optional
Preheat the oven to 350F
Mix together wet ingredients
Add in dry ingredients and mix
Add to a parchment-lined 9" x 5" loaf tin
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes
Remove from the oven and let cool. Optional: top with icing.
Slice into 11 pieces and enjoy!
Icing: Mix 100g yogurt, ½ teaspoon vanilla, 2 tbsp maple syrup
Gluten-Free Gingerbread FAQs
Is Gingerbread Gluten-Free?
Gingerbread (both gingerbread cookies and gingerbread loaf) is typically not gluten-free, as it is traditionally made with all-purpose flour. However, you can easily make gluten-free gingerbread by using gluten-free flour blends or oat flour. Almond flour may not work in this recipe, as it does not absorb wet ingredients the same way.
What Is Gingerbread Made Of?
Gingerbread and gingerbread loaves are two very different things. Traditional gingerbread is harder, denser, and more cookie-like (the type that could be made into gingerbread houses or gingerbread men). In contrast, a gingerbread loaf has a bread-like consistency—similar to pumpkin or banana bread. Both versions of gingerbread will have ground ginger, of course, as well as other warming spices like cinnamon and possibly ground allspice, nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom.
Is the Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf Gluten-Free?
No, the Starbucks gingerbread loaf is not gluten-free, as it contains regular enriched wheat flour.
Can You Make Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies?
Yes, you can make gluten-free gingerbread cookies—or cut them into gluten-free gingerbread men if you’re feeling extra festive. To make gluten-free gingerbread cookies, simply swap out all-purpose flour for a gluten-free flour blend. Good gluten-free flour blend options include this one from Bob’s Red Mill, or you can use a gluten-free oat flour.