Let's get this straight right now: baking with whole grain, gluten-free flour while avoiding dairy, refined sugar and eggs does not typically make for super moist, easy and delicious baking. Until now, my friends. This gluten-free gingerbread apple cake is soft, buttery and an amazing feel-good treat.
My recipes are pretty flexible in general. I like it when people can take a look at my recipes for inspiration and then adjust them to suit their tastes or to choose local and seasonal ingredients they can easily find at their local market or grocery store. With baking, however, we need to be a little more precise. And no one wants to have a mouthful of dry, crumbly cake.
This cake wasn't dry at all. It was super moist, just sweet enough and way too good to have around the house. What was my secret weapon?
Applesauce. I love using apple sauce in my gluten free baked treats because it works in three magical ways to make for baking success.
- Applesauce has a naturally occurring pectin, which acts as a binding agent to help with gluten-free baking.
- Applesauce has a natural sweetness to it, so less additional sweetener is needed.
- Apple is fibre-rich, which helps to hold in and retain moisture. This means it can also replace some of the oil in most recipes.
How to Make Homemade Applesauce
Here's what you need:
- Organic Apples: Any kind will work, really. Pick your favourite, or try a mix of varieties. How many apples you use will depend on how much applesauce you want.
What to do:
- Core the apples, then chop them into 1-inch chunks. No need to peel them if they are organic apples - there are tons of nutrients in the peel. Add them to a pot with a little bit of water, just so the apples don't scorch as you wait for them to release their juices.
- Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and really tender.
- Mash the apples, or run them through your blender or food processor to get them super smooth.
Spice options: This is optional, but nice to give your applesauce some oomph. Try cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger or star anise. Experiment and see what you like!
I prefer to make applesauce in large batches and then freeze it in mason jars to use in baking or to have on hand as a snack. Applesauce is lovely when sprinkled with hemp seeds or paired with coconut yogurt/kefir.
Other Reasons to Love This Gluten-Free Gingerbread Apple Cake
Applesauce isn't the only reason why I love this gluten-free gingerbread apple cake. It's packed with health-promoting ingredients, including:
- Ginger: A highly anti-inflammatory herb that's great for indigestion and nausea.
- Cinnamon: This sweet spice is wonderful for balancing blood sugar levels.
- Molasses: Molasses is a by-product of refining cane sugar, but unlike processed sugar, it is full of nutrients such as iron, magnesium and potassium.
- Ghee: This is clarified butter, which removes the milk proteins and milk solids. It's rich in easily digested fats as well as the Vitamins A, D, E and K. I ate a lot of ghee while pregnant and I think my baby Finn is 50% ghee.
- Sunflower Seed Meal: This nut-free alternative is high in the antioxidant Vitamin E, along with magnesium which is great for helping our muscles and nerves relax. Sunflower seed meal in baking while sometimes turn baked goods green: this is a chemical reaction between the seeds and baking soda. The green-ness isn't mold and is safe to eat. If nut allergies aren't an issue, you can swap the seeds for almond meal.
- Buckwheat Flour: This gluten-free flour is high in fibre, magnesium and a flavonoid called rutin, which helps lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
- Chia Seeds: This egg replacement is a rich source of omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory, and they contain fibre and bone-building calcium.
I love this cake because it is easy to make and is perfect for both the holiday season and all year round as an elegant dessert or snack. If you want to up your gluten-free cake game, top this one with coconut whipped cream or cashew cream.
Yield: Serves 4-6
- ¾ cup gluten-free brown rice flour
- ¾ cup gluten-free buckwheat flour
- ¼ cup sunflower seed meal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
- pinch of clove
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup ghee or coconut oil
- 1 tbsp chia, ground and mixed with ¼ cup warm water
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Line cake pan with parchment or grease with ghee/oil and dust with flour.
- Mix together all dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl or blender, whisk/gently blend together the grated ginger, sugar, syrup, molasses, apple sauce, water vinegar and butter/oil.
- Mix wet into dry and add the chia paste.
- Pour into cake pan and smooth out with a spatula
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick, inserted into the centre comes out clean.
What are some of your favourite baking substitutions?