A soft and moist vegan gingerbread loaf filled with warm spices and finished with a tangy orange glaze. This easy cake is the perfect festive recipe for enjoying with a cup of tea or coffee.
One of the things you’ll get to know about me is that my memories are very clearly linked with food. And one of the pictures my mind always conjures when I think about Christmas time is not actual Christmas day itself but the days leading up to it.
It’s a time when everyone has finished work for the year, they are winding down. Family has come together and everyone is feeling relaxed. And on my mum’s side of the family we always gather together for morning tea. Tea and coffee flows as does the festive cakes and biscuits.
What we serve up for morning tea are the treats that can be made a little in advance and stored well in the fridge or on the bench, cut up and ready to just be transferred to a plate for serving. It’s low effort but high reward.
This cake is exactly that kind of treat. You can make it in advance and freeze it. Simply defrost and glaze before slicing and serving. It fits in a smaller container meaning you aren’t taking up precious refrigerator space with a full size cake. And finally, it means that you can save your elaborate desserts for Christmas day itself but still enjoy something delicious and festive in the lead up.
This gingerbread loaf is a great thing to bake when you have guests coming over because the smell of it throughout your house is wonderful and certainly made me feel a little more festive!
Warm, rich and spiced desserts around Christmas time have come from our friends in the Northern Hemisphere who experience winter in December. But even though our temperatures skyrocket and we find ourselves deep in an Aussie summer when Santa comes around, there is still something that feels comforting about gingerbread and those traditional Christmas treats.
It’s about more than just the literal feeling but rather about that cheesy Christmas spirit, and I absolutely love that.
Ingredients in this vegan gingerbread loaf
This cake is completely free from dairy and egg products making it a great pantry recipe as well as being suitable for different diets. I haven’t experimented using gluten-free flour as an alternative but if you do please share in the comments below.
For this cake, we need a few key ingredients (scroll down for the full ingredient list and quantities);
- Golden Syrup – this is a common ingredient in Australia and the UK, however in the US if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with molasses. This is such a key ingredient which helps with the texture and the flavour so don’t leave it out. You will need to mix the golden syrup with some hot water to dissolve it prior to mixing it through the batter otherwise it’s just a bit too sticky to work with.
- Spices – we are using a lot of spices in this cake which will give us that rich gingerbread taste we want. I like the combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves however if you’re not a fan of cloves (which I know some people aren’t), you can replace that with some extra cinnamon.
- Dark brown sugar – I’m going to be honest here and let you know that any brown sugar will work here, but if you can get dark brown sugar it’s going to enhance the rich flavour of this cake. In Australia you can usually find the dark brown sugar on the shelf below the regular brown sugar in the supermarket. The brown sugar not only enhances the flavours in the cake but will add to the soft texture which is exactly what we are looking for here.
- Apple cider vinegar – again we can substitute this with white vinegar depending on what you have available. This is going to react with the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and help to give the cake lift and rise taking on some of the responsibility that would usually have been covered by an egg.
How to make this gingerbread loaf
This is such a simple recipe! To start you’ll need 3 bowls, a whisk and a loaf pan.
Preheat the oven and prepare your pan with oil spray and baking paper, leaving a little paper overhang on the edges to help you lift out the finished cake.
In the small bowl, dissolve the golden syrup in the hot water. The water doesn’t have to be boiling but it needs to be hot to touch – generally the water straight out of my hot tap is perfect. Set this aside.
Next whisk together all of your dry ingredients including the spices. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and the golden syrup mixture a little at a time whisking between each addition until the batter has just formed, be careful not to overmix and the less we mix, the softer the finished cake will be.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer when inserted into the centre comes out clean. You’ll know it’s close to being done when your house starts to smell warm and festive!
Let the cake cool in the pan for a little bit before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. You want to wait for it to be completely cooled before making the glaze otherwise it will just melt off.
The glaze is of course completely optional but it tastes so good with the cake that I think it’s pretty necessary. The glaze is simply made with icing sugar and a little bit of orange juice making it sweet and a little bit tangy, the perfect balance to the spiced cake.
Add just enough orange juice to the icing sugar until it is thin enough to drizzle. If you’ve made it too thin, just add more icing sugar. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake and then slice to serve.
Can I freeze this?
If you want to get a head start on your Christmas baking, you can certainly make this in advance. After the cake has cooled (before icing) wrap it in 2 layers of plastic wrap and then 1 layer of aluminium foil and freeze. To defrost let come to room temperature on the kitchen bench overnight while still wrapped.
From here, simply make your glaze and the cake will be just like fresh.
Alternatively if you have left over cake you can wrap slices individually in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer and just take a slice as you need it, again letting come to room temperature in the wrapping before serving.
Have I sometimes microwaved a slice to defrost it in a hurry? Yes. It works in a pinch but by changing the temperature of the cake so drastically it will change the texture and it won’t be at it’s very best, so this isn’t recommended although there is absolutely no judgement if you need to do this in a cake emergency.
Christmas is a time where we can relax a little bit, enjoy cakes in the morning and catch up with friends and family. I know this year might look a lot different for everyone around the world but hopefully even if you can’t be together you can still find little moments for tradition, even if it’s at a distance or via the internet.
So many memories can be shared around food, whether it’s sharing a laugh over a slice of gingerbread loaf, or if it’s cooking together with family in the kitchen, making a mess and enjoying the process. Whatever it is Christmas, unlike any other time of the year, is a time when all of this can come together with a little of that festive spirit.
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
Vegan Gingerbread Loaf with Orange Glaze
- 1 ¼ cup hot water
- ⅓ cup golden syrup
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the glaze:
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with baking paper and a light spray of cooling oil.
- In a small bowl, combine hot water (not boiling but still hot to touch) with the golden syrup and mix to dissolve. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt and whisk together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl a little at a time, alternating with the golden syrup and water mixture until the batter just comes together.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer when inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon at a time of the orange juice into the icing sugar until the glaze comes together. It should be thick but still able to drizzle. Decorate the cake with the glaze. Slice and enjoy. Store the cake in an airtight container for 2 days at room temperature of 3-4 days refrigerated.
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