A gorgeously festive, heavily spiced, deeply dark, slightly sticky & delicious Vegan Gingerbread Cake, smothered in inappropriately huge rivers of orange glaze! Directions also included for making a Vegan Gingerbread Loaf as well as cakes of other sizes. Get your festive pants on because Vegan Gingerbread Cake is H-appening!
We're talking a gorgeous, heavily spiced, deeply dark, slightly sticky and delicious cake with inappropriately huge rivers of orange frosting drizzle. It's 100% as warming, fragrant and festive as a good Gingerbread Vegan Bundt Cake should be and the sweet, subtle citrus hit is such an amazing contrast to the spicy warmth of the gingerbread cake.
Holiday baking really is the best kind of baking.
Reasons this Vegan Gingerbread Cake is everything:
- It's rich and dark
- It's buttery and slightly dense (but not too dense)
- It's sweet but not overly sweet
- It is jam packed with festive spicy flavour and fragrance
- It's really easy to make and pretty impressive all at the same time!
- The combo of the rich, spicy gingerbread and the orange glaze is incredible!
- It's perfectly moist and slightly sticky
Call me crazy too, but this Vegan Gingerbread Cake actually gets better with time. Those gorgeous spices continue to work their magic way after it comes out of the oven. It stays perfectly moist too, even 5 or 6 days after baking.
What if I don't have a bundt pan?
So, I made this vegan cake in a bundt pan because I think it looks inordinately more festive. Plus people think you're a fancy pants cake baker even when you're not really. It cannot fail to impress and at this time of year with entertaining and parties, that's particularly important, don't you think?
If however you don't have a bundt pan, you can make a Vegan Gingerbread Loaf instead. Alterations are listed in the recipe notes. You can even bake the cake as it is in a regular cake pan. See the recipe notes for sizing suggestions.
How to make a Gingerbread Vegan Bundt Cake
FOR INGREDIENTS & FULL INSTRUCTIONS PLEASE SEE THE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST
So here's the rundown on what's going on in this vegan bundt cake recipe and why:
- All purpose flour – It's sturdy and works really well, giving the perfect dense but not too dense texture. I don’t recommend switching it for any other flour.
- Baking powder – Adds lift and airy fluffiness
- Baking Soda – The combination of baking soda and molasses creates a chemical reaction and makes bubbles and fizz. It is used as a replacement for the leavening usually provided by eggs and helps the cake rise well and become fluffier.
- Vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper & salt – Flavour, flavour, flavour! This is a very richly flavoured and festive cake. The black pepper might seem odd but it adds a lovely spicy, subtle heat. Don't skip it!
- Dark Brown Sugar – The kind that's dark and slightly sticky/clumpy in the bag. Important for moisture, depth of flavour and colour.
- Molasses - Absolutely essential in gingerbread. Go for dark molasses, usually labelled "unsulphured", sometimes labelled "robust". Do not use Blackstrap molasses as we are using a lot and the flavour would be too strong. Also do not reduce the amount. It is a lot but it is necessary for flavour, structure and moistness. I used Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses.
- Vegan Butter- Adds flavour and moisture. I highly recommend you don't use anything else instead. Oil gives nowhere near as good a result. However, if you need to make the cake oil-free, natural no additive almond or cashew butter will provide an ok, but slightly heavier result.
- Apple Sauce - We are packing the moisture into this cake. Good gingerbread cake should be moist and slightly sticky. This helps keep it that way for days and days after it's baked.
- Hot Water - Important for moisture and for dissolving the thick molasses
It might seem like there is a lot of moisture in here, but bundt cakes have a tendency to dry out while cooking and this should be a very moist cake. All of the wet ingredients guarantee a super moist bundt cake.
- Powdered Sugar - For the glaze. I use Wholesome Sweeteners Powdered Sugar
- Orange Juice - From a fresh orange preferably although natural 100% orange juice from a carton will do too.
I am a USA Pan fan so naturally I treated myself to a USA Pan Bundt Pan because I didn't already have one/ There are cheaper pans available but with a cake pan that you can't line with baking parchment, and with all those crevices, there was no way I was taking any chances. Can you imagine the horror of your beautiful cake getting stuck in the pan? I know from experience that my other USA Pan loaf and cake pans never stick so it was an easy decision for me. They really are good. Their bundt pan is heavy duty, radiates heat perfectly so cooks very evenly, never warps and it has handy little handles to make holding it/turning out easy.
- Grease the pan absolutely thoroughly. We don't want to take any chances here so be very generous.
- Mix the molasses with boiling water. Stir until it is completely dissolved. Add the vanilla too.
- Add all of the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk them up.
- Add the butter and sugar to another bowl (or a stand mixer) and beat them really well together until light and fluffy. It needs a good 5 minutes. Then add the apple sauce and beat again.
- Add the wet and the dry ingredients to the butter mixture gradually, alternating between the two and beating between additions until just combined. Don't over-mix.
- Spoon into the bundt pan and bake.
- And the important thing, when it's done, leave it in the pan until it's completely cool. This is really important!
- Once it's cool, remove it from the pan and glaze.
- For decoration, you can't beat some fresh cranberries and fresh rosemary sprigs. They look so festive!
Vegan Gingerbread Cake Success Tips
- Follow the recipe closely and as always with recipes involving flour, I highly recommend that you use a kitchen scale. Cup measurements are not accurate enough to get the best and consistent results. Digital kitchen scales are available at most big superstores now and you can pick one up for around $10. They are a great investment and are so worth having! If you do need to use cups, spoon the flour into the cup then level off the top with a knife without compacting it or shaking it down. By doing it like this you will get roughly the correct amount and make your chances of success better. Do not scoop the flour up into the cup as you will end up with much more than intended and it will affect the outcome of the recipe.
- Do not over mix the batter. As with all cakes, the more you mix, the more you activate the gluten in the flour which really affects the texture and rise of the finished cake.
- Alternate the wet and dry ingredients when mixing the batter. See below for why this important.
- Grease your pan very well.
- Rub your measuring cup/jug with a little oil prior to measuring the molasses. It will make the whole situation less sticky and it will pour out like a dream leaving no remnants.
- Don't overcook the cake. Once time is nearly up, check frequently. It's better to very slightly undercook it than overcook it. A toothpick inserted should have some sticky crumbs on it, but not obviously wet batter.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in its pan. Don't remove it until it is completely cool. Usually with cakes we remove them more or less right away, so they don't get damp from the steam emerging inside the pan. With this cake though, we actually want it to be a sticky because it works so well with gingerbread. Steam is your friend.
- As long as you take note of the previous success tip, this one won't be relevant at all but I thought it worth mentioning in case someone does rush things and removes the cake from the pan too soon. Don't frost the cake until it has cooled completely.
- When you make the frosting, follow my directions for adding the orange juice carefully. There is no exact amount. It varies a little every-time. It's important to keep the frosting as thick as it can possibly be, whilst still being drizzle-able.
- Make up a bit of extra frosting using powdered sugar and water, and practice pouring the glaze onto your upturned bundt pan. That way you can perfect your technique before you let yourself loose on the real cake. See my tips for the best way to glaze the cake below.
- Larger cake recipes bake times tend to vary from oven to oven. Different cake pans bake differently too. Your bake time may be longer or shorter than mine. Use my time as a guide and check regularly. It's important not to over-bake this one.
- Reduce the recipe by a third to make a Vegan Gingerbread Loaf. Amended quantities are in the recipe notes.
Why alternate the wet and dry ingredients when mixing the cake batter?
There is method to my madness here. I always stress not to over-mix cake and muffin batters. That's because too much mixing activates the gluten in the flour which will affect the texture of your sponge.
In this recipe, adding the liquid all at once could over saturate the whipped vegan butter and sugar mixture and cause separation issues. You might have had this happen when you've made a cake before. It kind of looks like it has curdled.
Also, adding all of the dry ingredients all at once, will make the batter suddenly very thick and harder to mix which could constribute to the over mixing we talked about earlier, yielding a tougher cake.
Instead, when we alternate the dry and liquid ingredients, in 3 or 4 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, stirring just a little after each addition, but only until just combined, we reduce the chances of over-mixing and curdling. It also doesn't really take that much longer so is really a worthwhile step.
How to frost a bundt cake
In my journey towards an Instagram ready, pretty cake, and after many un-photogenic fails, I finally discovered the perfect way to glaze a bundt cake.
You wanna know how? Gather 'round friends ....
It's so easy once you know how and gives you that perfect drizzle that runs in pretty rivers down every single crevice of the bundt cake.
For perfect visual appeal, the glaze must be very thick so it coats well and doesn't seep into the sponge and look wishy washy. It must also be just pourable. It should be so thick that it pours very slowly and not fast from a jug.
If you have a lazy Susan for this then you're in luck, but I don't. A plate or regular cake stand is fine and is what I used.
Put your cake on the cake stand or on a plate then on a lazy Susan, and have the glaze in a jug with a nice lip for pouring. Aim the jug of glaze along the very top middle ridge of the cake and pour slowly, while simultaneously spinning the cake, so that your hand holding the jug stays in just about the same spot at all times but the cake moves. This ensures that the glaze is poured evenly all around. Keep going until the glaze is more or less used up. You don't need to be spinning the cake particularly fast. Just keep it turning at all times. The glaze will very slowly run down the edges of the cake and make beautifully neat, smooth rivers. You won't need to do any spreading.
If you feel the need to practice first, make up a bit of extra glaze using powdered sugar and water, and practice on your upturned bundt pan. That way you can perfect your technique before you let yourself loose on the real cake.
And if I could summarize what I learned about glazing bundt cakes, it's mainly that Vegan Gingerbread Cake works amazingly well with a citrusy glaze situation. I think orange is best, but lemon also works brilliantly, so it's your choice when you get to the glaze making part. Squeeze your citrus fruit of choice. Orange though, at this time of year feels more festive, don't you think?
If you are making a Vegan Gingerbread Loaf or a regular cake, instead of a bundt cake, simply drizzle the frosting over the top, but have a glass of water and a spatula or knife handy. If you need to spread the glaze a little, dip the spatula or knife into the water, shake it off to remove any excess, then use the wet spatula/knife to spread the glaze without affecting its smoothness.
Some ways you can adapt this vegan bundt cake recipe
Although I don't recommend changing a lot, because baking is a science and the smallest thing can affect the outcome of the cake, there are some minor things that you can tweak:
- Add some chopped stem or candied ginger to the cake batter
- Add a handful or 2 of chocolate chips to the batter
- Use water or plant-based milk to make the glaze instead of orange juice if you'd rather not have a citrus flavour going on there.
- Use lemon instead of orange juice in the frosting.
- Omit the frosting completely and simply sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar.
- Frost it with vegan cream cheese frosting
- Cook in a loaf pan to make a Vegan Gingerbread Loaf (instructions included in the recipe notes)
- Cook in a regular cake pan (instructions included in the recipe notes)
How to store
This cake stays perfectly moist for days and days. We have been enjoying it up to a week after it was baked. Just be sure to keep it well wrapped or in an airtight container. The flavour just keeps getting better and better!
I prefer to keep my cakes at room temperature as I find they dry out and get too firm in the fridge.
How to freeze Vegan Gingerbread Cake
Let the Vegan Gingerbread Cake or Vegan Gingerbread Loaf cool completely in the pan, then remove and wrap very well. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight and then glaze or dust with powdered sugar before serving.
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Vegan Gingerbread Cake
- 1 cup / 240 ml boiling water
- 1 cup / 240 ml / 320 g unsulphured molasses , dark but not blackstrap molasses (I like Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Unsulphured Molasses) - see recipe notes if you are in the UK
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup / 120 g vegan butter , plus a little more for greasing the pan (for oil-free option see recipe notes)
- ½ cup / 100 g dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup / 4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 3 cups / 375 g all purpose flour , (in the UK use plain flour)
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda , (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ heaping teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the glaze
- 2 cups / 250 g powdered sugar
- 5 - 8 tablespoons fresh orange juice , the amount varies, see directions
Optional decorative items
- fresh cranberries
- fresh rosemary sprigs
- As always with cake recipes, I recommend you use a digital scale to measure the ingredients and not cups as they are not accurate enough for consistent results.
- Adjust an oven shelf to the lower third of the oven, then preheat to 350 °F (175 °C). Grease a 9 to 10 inch Bundt Pan with plenty of vegan butter. (see recipe notes for other pan options)
- Put the boiling water in a jug or small bowl, and add the molasses. Stir really well until it has dissolved completely in the water. Add the vanilla to it, stir quickly again, then set aside.
- Beat the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment makes it easier but you can do it by hand if you need to. It needs at least 5 minutes of beating. Scrape down the sides with a spatula as needed. Then add the applesauce and beat again to combine.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Give them a quick whisk to combine them.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three or four additions alternating with the hot water/molasses and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Avoid over-mixing. If doing it by hand, do the same and mix in between additions. Try to start with the dry ingredients and end with the dry.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the prepared pan and get it straight into the oven. Bake for around 47 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with just a few sticky crumbs on it but no obviously wet batter and the cake is just starting to come away slightly from the sides and bounces back when pressed gently with a finger. This is a large cake and oven times will vary so don't be alarmed if it's not ready at 47-50 minutes. Just keep checking every 5 minutes or so.
- It is very important to let the cake cool completely in the tin. Do not remove it until it has cooled.
- Once the cake is cool, remove it from the pan. Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl. Add the orange juice very gradually 1 tablespoon at a time to the powdered sugar, giving it a really good stir between each addition. You won't need much orange juice at all. Way less than you think you will when you start. Suddenly it will all dissolve and become a lovely thick, just pourable glaze. You need it to be as thick as possible, while still being just pourable. It should be so thick that it pours slowly. If you accidentally add a little too much orange juice, just add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it up again.
- Glaze the cake. See recipe notes for tips on how to do it neatly. Leave the glaze to firm up for a few minutes before serving. If you feel the need to practice first, make up a bit of extra frosting using powdered sugar and water, and practice on your upturned bundt pan. That way you can perfect your technique before you let yourself loose on the real cake.
- Once the frosting has firmed up a little you can decorate the cake. I don't think you can beat some fresh cranberries and rosemary for a simple, but festive, natural look!
- 1 (9 x 13 inch) pan
- 2 (9 inch) round cake pans
- 1 (9 inch) tube pan
- 1 (10 inch) spring form pan
- In a 9 x 13 inch pan, start checking after 30 mins
- In 2 x 9 inch cake pans start checking after about 23 mins
- In a 9 inch tube pan start checking after about 35 - 40 mins
- In a 10 inch spring form start checking after about 60 minutes
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