Back when I was still breastfeeding Kye and eating was like walking on eggs shells (with all fingers and toes crossed) hoping that what I was eating wouldn’t leave him screaming in pain all night, my lovely brother Louie sent me a wonderful and life saving book over from Scotland. Vegetarian cooking without by Barbara Cousins was my saviour. It’s a book full of recipes free from added gluten, yeast, dairy, meat, fish and saturated fat. Yep pretty much everything that I was having to cut out of my diet in the hopes of helping Kye’s sore tummy and for us to have a little bit more than 2 hours sleep a night.
This was one of the first cakes I made from the book, sweetened with stewed dates this cake is so good for you it should really be bad! I’m constantly amazed by cakes like this, there was once a time when I thought you needed lots of sugar, wheat and dairy to make a nice cake but not anymore.
The texture is light and fluffy with a little chewy bite from the almond meal. I don't come across millet flour all that often which is what Barbara uses for this cake, so I've substituted it with the almond meal. I love ginger so I have bumped it up a notch with the crystalized ginger, but if you are avoiding sugar altogether just grate a little knob of fresh ginger in its place. The molasses gives this cake a wonderful flavour and is full of minerals but as it does contain a little sugar, you can use tahini instead, oh and skip the icing too if your sugar-free! We generally eat this icing-free, but this time round I've added it to make this cakes a little more photogenic! They are best eaten on the day they're baked, not that they ever make it past day one in our house anyway!
spiced gingerbread cake recipe
This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and can easily be adapted to sugar-free. I use New Zealand/U.K Tbsp measurements, 1 Tbsp = 15 ml/3 tsp please make sure you make adjustments if you use the Australian measurements, or just weigh the ingredients! You can use white rice flour in place of the brown rice flour, no worries.
- scant 3/4 cup (90g) chopped dates
- 1/3 cup (80ml) water
- 3/4 cup (90g) fine brown rice flour
- 1 cup (110g) almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1 tablespoon molasses/tahini
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 1-2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, finely chopped, (optional)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
- 1/4-1/3 cup (60-80ml) cold water
- 3/4 cup (90g) pure icing sugar (make sure it’s gluten-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons melted dairy-free margarine or butter if okay
- boiling water
- chopped crystallised ginger to garnish
Preheat oven to 180 C/350F.
Place chopped dates and the first water measurement into a small saucepan, cover and bring to the boil. Turn down and stew 4-5 mins untill all the water has been absorbed and dates are soft. Mash dates in the pot with a fork, to form a thick paste. Set aside to cool.
Sift the rice flour, spices and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the almond meal and crystalized ginger (I add 2 tbsp but if you don’t love ginger like I do, stick to 1tbsp or omit altogether). Whisk to thoroughly combine and to break up any lumps of almond meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, molasses (or tahini), along with the date paste until smooth. Pour into the dry mix along with enough water (I usually add the full 1/3 cup) to obtain a soft dropping consistency and whisk to form a smooth batter (that’s the beauty of gluten-free cooking, you can whisk cake batters as there is no risk if over-working the gluten!)
Place mixture into a greased, lined 6 inch/15cm cake tin or do as I have here and grease 4 small 4inch/10cm fluted (bundt) cake tins. Bake for 15-20 mins for 4 inch bundt cake tins or 20-30 mins for 6 inch round cake tin, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool 5 mins in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack. Eat or cool completely before icing with ginger icing.
To make the icing; sift icing sugar and ground ginger into a small bowl. Add melted margarine/butter and enough boiling water to get a good spreadable consistency. I went for more of a glaze with these ones, but make it thicker by adding less water if you prefer. Garnish with chopped ginger.
P.s Just a wee note; the first link to Barbara’s cookbook (up the top of the page) is for Amazon, whereas this last link is for a NZ online store that sells it.