Monday, December 14, 2009

Recipe: Vegan Gingerbread

It ain't Christmas without the spice!  Who am I kidding?  It isn't a meal in this household without spice, especially if that spice involves the words cinnamon, chile, or cajun in it!  I'm Texan, what can I say?

Anyway, it isn't Christmas for me unless there's two spices involved: cinnamon and ginger.  One of my favorite things growing up as a kid were my dad's ginger snaps.  These are not the hard crunchy things you find in bags at grocery stores, these were sweet, chewy, soft, and certainly put the snap in gingersnap.  Dad only makes these at Christmastime and they haven't been seen in some time (maybe this year?) which means I have to get my ginger fix another way.  Oh sure, I could just call my dad and say "Hey, Pop, hand over the gingersnap recipe!" but that would mean remembering to call him and then having a spare moment to do just that and then having something to write the recipe down with, all of this assuming that he is at home and has access to the recipe in question.  Sorry, but it's late and my daddy is up at the butt crack of dawn for his paper route so the phone call will have to wait.  Instead, you can enjoy gingerBREAD.

There are tons of gingerbread recipes out there (would you say...a plethora?) and after trying some of them, I gave up and made my own.  I used the vegan strawberry cake recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Joy of Vegan Baking as a starting point.  Seriously, I am not vegan, but this book is freaking amazing and this recipe has become ridiculously versatile for a good many things for me and I don't feel nearly as bad for feeding cake to my daughter for breakfast.  Um...not that I do that...a lot.

Moving on!  So yes, this recipe is vegan which means no animal products.  Trust me, you won't even miss them in this recipe.  The texture is similar to that of the Starbucks gingerbread, which is dense, soft, and very moist.

Vegan Gingerbread
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg or ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 TBSP distilled white vinegar

1.  Preheat your oven to 350F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix together well.
2.  In a two cup measuring cup, stir all of the wet ingredients together.  It's alright if they aren't mixed completely, just give them a bit of a stir.
3.  Make a 'well' in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.  Use a spatula to fold the mixture together until you don't see any large pockets of dry ingredients.  The mixture will be thick.
4.  Pour the batter into a pre-greased 8" cake pan or a loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Some food for thought...
  • If you use a loaf pan reduce your heat to 300F or 325F, otherwise you'll end up with burned edges and an undercooked middle. 
  • Because of the oil in the recipe, this recipe is very moist but can be a bit hard to read in terms of whether it's done or not.  Your toothpick should be clean when inserted and removed, the cake should be pulling from the side of the pan, and the top should spring back slightly when pushed gently.  
  • This can also be done as cupcakes and mini loaves for easy gift giving. 
  • Top this off with some cream cheese frosting (vegan or not) and sprinkle with a touch of orange zest for some color.  In fact, adding a touch of orange zest wouldn't be a bad idea...but go easy on it as it can overwhelm the spice easily.
Happy caking!

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