Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Soft gingerbread (the vegan edition)

Maybe about now you're wondering how soft gingerbread can be before it's not gingerbread anymore. If you're thinking of gingerbread cookies, I totally forgive you; they're delicious as well. But soft gingerbread is more of a light cake, and is just as yummy as (if not yummier than) your average gingerbread cutout.

My grandmother and mother both made this for me growing up, and it was unpleasant to think that I couldn't eat it anymore once I went vegan. But I've realized that flaxseed can save the world, and so here we have it, a totally vegan version of my grandmother's gingerbread recipe!

There are some tricks to a nice gingerbread, and one of them is 100% vegetable shortening. I don't know why, but it just makes cakes bake better. And, quite frankly, if it's not broken, I don't plan to fix it.

I will mention that gingerbread is not an instant hit for everyone. If you've never had it before, you might feel a little gobsmacked when you first bite in. It's a flavour that's very distinctive, and so your reaction to it is much more likely to be "I love it" or "I hate it" than somewhere in the middle.
This gorgeous vegan sugar bakes beautifully and as a definite bonus, it is directly and fairly traded, so I know the producers were treated with respect.
For this recipe, I used this beautiful brown sugar from this amazing company called Level Ground, which does direct Fair Trade with producers in Colombia. It made a beautiful gingerbread, and since their (organic) sugar is processed by hand, rather than refined using animal bones, it is also vegan. 

This recipe is easy to incorporate other Fair Trade ingredients into, so I did. (It will work with non-Fair Trade ones, too, if you don't keep them on hand, or if you have trouble finding them in your neighbourhood.) I used ginger and blackstrap molasses, specifically. Fair Trade ingredients can usually be found in any good health food store. The ginger I used was from Arayuma, a Fair Trade company based out of Canada that has some of the most fragrant spices I've ever used.

And last but not least, say thanks to your handy blackstrap molasses for giving you your extra iron boost. It's chock full of it. (There has to be some health benefit to eating gingerbread, even though it's delicious...right?) Blackstrap is also exactly what gives a traditional gingerbread its very distinctive flavour and colour, and this recipe is no different. I used the one made by Wholesome Sweeteners, a company that makes everything from agave nectar to icing sugar and is pretty widely available in supermarkets and health food stores. It's also Fair Trade certified.

It's vegan and to die for!
Soft gingerbread
Makes 32 servings

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup 100% vegetable shortening
½ cup blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ cups hot water
3 cups flour
1½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger

Mix together shortening, sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Stir in flaxseed. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to sugar mixture. Measure all remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir until well blended.

Turn batter into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan and spread evenly. Bake in a 325°F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing into squares.
Beautiful, aromatic ginger lends its flavour to this cake.


  1. Replies
    1. Tell me about it! This batch is almost half gone already, and my roommates aren't even guilty this time!