What are the holidays without wheat, dairy, eggs and refined sugar? Pretty dreary, I imagined – until I came up with this moist, richly flavored gingerbread cake that I will be happily baking for months, if not years, to come.
Since going on an elimination diet, I have been avoiding gluten, soy, dairy and refined sugar. I’m also a vegetarian who’s allergic to chocolate, bananas and many nuts. I figured holiday baking would be a bust, until I found encouragement from friends on similar diets, delved into the gluten-free blogs, and began playing with ingredients. What began as a perceived nightmare soon became a fascinating challenge.
Gingerbread is one of my favorite fall treats, and I was determined to find a version I could eat. Using the applesauce gingerbread recipe in “The Joy of Cooking” as a starting point, I experimented until I came up with a cake without gluten, milk, butter, eggs, refined sugar, soy products, xanthan or guar gums.
Now, let’s talk about what the cake does contain: subtly sweet teff and millet flours, nutty flax seeds, creamy coconut oil, and molasses and coconut palm sugar (while no sugars should be eaten to excess, these are unrefined and lower on the glycemic index). If you have a favorite gluten-free flour blend, you could give it a try. But I really like the combination of teff flour, millet flour and potato starch, which works well with the sweeteners and spices and keeps the cake moist.
Serve the cake with dairy-free cream, a fruit compote or a dusting of stevia, and you’ll feel festive, not restricted.
Emily Ho is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.
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