Impress your family and friends when you make this soft, fluffy, moist, and delicious vegan gingerbread cake for dessert. This classic Christmas treat filled with molasses and warm gingerbread spice flavour is perfect to serve during the festive season.
It’s a quick, easy recipe that's dairy-free, eggless, and can be made gluten-free, too!
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There are some recipes we all enjoy during the holidays AND throughout the year (like vegan fudge), but for me, this vegan gingerbread cake is one that I reserve just for the holiday season! (Although, if a craving happens in May, you can still make it! Why not?!)
You're going to love this perfectly spiced vegan ginger cake because it's filled with warm spices, cozy flavours, and it tastes and smells like Christmas.
When you bake it, your house is going to smell delicious, just like when you bake any of these vegan gluten-free cookies!
Let's get into all the details you'll need to prepare this holiday dessert, but before you scroll down, bookmark these other vegan Christmas desserts that are sure to impress everyone you serve them to:
Ingredients You'll Need
The ingredient list may look long but that's only because there are four separate spices in the recipe to help give the cake its gingerbread flavour profile.
I've included details about each ingredient below as well as information on what can and can't be substituted.
Ingredient and Substitution Notes
Flour – I've created both a vegan version of this cake and a vegan gluten-free version. You will need a different type of flour for each one.
For vegan gluten-free gingerbread cake: Use Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-free Flour Blend in the RED bag.
For vegan gingerbread cake: Use all-purpose white flour.
I haven't tried this recipe with any other type of flour, so if you use something else, your outcome may not be the same as mine.
NOTE: When baking, measuring flour accurately is so important to achieving great results, no matter what type you're using. Check out my article, "How to Measure Flour Correctly" — it's filled with the tips you need to make sure you're all set before you start baking.
Molasses – This is an essential ingredient in all gingerbread recipes and cannot be left out. Molasses has a very unique, robust flavour that is needed to make gingerbread, there is no substitute for it. You will need to use molasses labelled "fancy", "unsulphured," "dark," or "baking." I tested with blackstrap molasses, and because of its strong flavour, it overpowered the flavour of the cake, so please avoid that type.
Hot Water - Molasses on its own is very thick and sticky, it cannot be added to the dry ingredients on its own because it will not mix in properly. To make it more manageable, you will mix it with hot water that has been boiled to thin it out and make it easier to work with.
Sugar – You can use either light brown sugar (just make sure it's vegan (organic sugar is always vegan)) or coconut sugar. Each type calls for a different amount, so take note of the different measurements in the recipe. I haven't tested with liquid sweeteners like pure maple syrup or agave syrup, and I haven't experimented with any artificial sweeteners.
Oil - There's no butter in this cake, instead, you'll need a neutral-flavoured vegetable oil, such as safflower or sunflower oil. You can also use coconut oil, but if you use it, make sure all of your other ingredients are at room temperature to prevent it from becoming solid.
I haven't tried using vegan butter in this recipe, and I haven't attempted an oil-free version.
Flax Egg – Since this recipe is made without eggs, flax eggs are used as an egg replacer. Chia eggs will also work if you don't or can't have flax.
Spices – The spices are very important in this recipe because along with the molasses, they contribute to achieving the classic gingerbread flavour we all know and love. You'll need ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda - Make sure these ingredients are fresh and active, they’re essential for the cake to rise properly and to have a soft, fluffy texture.
Vanilla and Salt - Both will enhance the flavour of your gingerbread cake, don't leave them out.
If you're making the vegan gluten-free version of this cake, please read all of my vegan gluten-free baking tips before starting!
How to Make It
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions in the recipe card at the end of this post.)
Start by lining a square pan (8" x 8") with parchment paper.
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
2. Mix the molasses and hot water in a large bowl.
3. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the molasses mixture. and mix
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix into a smooth batter.
5. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the cake batter to your pan and evenly spread it out.
6. Bake. Once the baking time is up, remove it from the oven, let it rest in the pan for a few minutes, then remove it and place it on a wire rack.
While the cake cools, if you will be frosting it, prepare the frosting.
7. Once fully cooled, frost the cake.
8. Carefully slice into 9 squares and serve.
Decorating and Serving It
This is a cake that stands perfectly on its own without any frosting or any type of topping, it can be served plain, however, to take it over the top, here are a few suggestions on how to do so:
- Frost it with vegan cream cheese frosting, vegan buttercream frosting, or vegan lemon buttercream frosting.
- Orange and gingerbread pair together nicely, so you use orange zest and orange juice instead of lemon zest and lemon juice in the lemon buttercream recipe linked above.
- Make it a simple vegan gingerbread snack cake by not frosting it and serving it plain.
- Dust a little powdered sugar / icing sugar on top of the cake just before serving. Don't do this too far in advance or it will melt into the cake.
- Top with sugared cranberries (they're easy to make, here's a recipe that will show you how to make sugared cranberries).
- Top with dairy-free whipped cream, a store-bought vegan whipped cream or homemade vegan coconut whip.
- To give an additional punch of ginger flavour, sprinkle finely chopped candied ginger on top of the frosting.
- This cake also pairs well with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream.
Not sure which brands make vegan whipped cream? Read this article to find a big list of brands to look for: "Is Cool Whip Vegan? (No, But THESE Brands Are!)."
Storing and Freezing
If you frost the cake with dairy-free cream cheese frosting, it will need to be refrigerated. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
The vegan gluten-free version dries out quicker, so it will stay fresh for less time. It will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
If you are not frosting the cake or if you are using a different frosting other than cream cheese, it can be left out at room temperature for a day or two but after that, refrigerate it.
When the cake has fully cooled, don't slice it, and don't frost it, instead, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze it for up to two months.
When you're ready to serve, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then frost.
Tips for Success
Both versions of this recipe were tested multiple times to get them right, please go through the following list for all of my tips so you get it perfect the first time.
- Measure and have all your ingredients ready to go before starting. This will make the process run smoothly, quickly, and easily.
- Measure your ingredients correctly. I highly recommend using a digital scale (this is the one I have) and my weight measurements when making this recipe. Please read my article about how to measure flour correctly. This tip also applies to all other ingredients, make sure to measure them accurately to get the best results.
- Use the same flour I use. If you are making the gluten-free vegan version, remember that vegan gluten-free baking can be tricky because different flours and blends produce different results. The particular gf flour I use to make this cake works perfectly, so to duplicate that perfection, please use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (in the RED bag!). If you don't need your cake to be gluten-free and you're making the vegan-only version, I have only tested with white all-purpose flour, so proceed with caution if you use a different type.
Tips for Success (continued)
- Don't leave any of the spices or the molasses out. These are the ingredients that work together to give the cake gingerbread flavour.
- Make sure your spices are fresh. Stale spices will mute the flavour of the cake.
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh. These are important ingredients that make the cake rise. If they're not fresh, the cake will have a dense, gummy texture and will not rise properly.
- Don’t over-mix if you are using all-purpose flour, over-mixing will make the cake turn out heavy, dense, and tough.
- Make sure the cake has FULLY cooled before frosting. Frosting it while it's still warm will cause the frosting to melt. To be safe, let the cake cool for 2 hours.
- Read this post from top to bottom before you start. I’ve included many tips and tricks to get things right. Also, read through the actual recipe before getting started.
- Follow the recipe exactly as it’s written for the very best results.
This will depend on your preference. Many love cream cheese frosting and think it's the best frosting for this type of cake, but other types will go well with it such as plain vanilla buttercream, lemon frosting, or orange frosting.
Yes! I tested baking it in round pans and they turned out just fine. Use a round 8-inch cake pan and bake the vegan gluten-free version for 20 minutes and the vegan version for 22 minutes. This recipe as written will make one 8-inch round cake but you can make it a layer cake by doubling the recipe and dividing the batter between 2 x 8-inch cake pans.
No, this will not work. The baking powder and baking soda will no longer be fully active and the result will be a flat, gummy cake. To save time, you can pre-mix all the dry ingredients, place the mix in an airtight container and then when you're ready, mix the wet ingredients and then proceed from there.
Molasses cannot be left out of this vegan gingerbread cake recipe; it's an essential ingredient and the flavour will not be the same without it.
Likely, yes, but instead of altering this recipe, use my vegan gingerbread muffins recipe instead.
Need a drink to enjoy alongside your slice of gingerbread cake? How about a gingerbread latte, hot chocolate, a glass of almond milk (or your favourite plant milk), an oat milk latte, or a cup of tea or coffee?
If You Make This Recipe...
Let me know what you think about it! You can do that by leaving a star rating and a comment below. You can also post a picture to Instagram and tag me so I can see it (I'd LOVE to see it!). I'm @delightfuladventures on Instagram.
Vegan Gingerbread Cake
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ cups (210g) gluten free flour blend OR all-purpose white flour (if using all-purpose flour, use 1 ½ cups (188g), **please see important notes about flour below**
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ cup (60ml) molasses (see note below)
- ½ cup (100g) brown sugar (or ⅔ cup (101g) coconut sugar, see note below)
- ¼ cup (60ml) oil (see note below)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 recipe vegan cream cheese frosting (optional, see note below)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Line an 8" x 8" square baking pan with parchment paper and make an overhang on all sides so removing the cake will be easy, set aside.
- Prepare your flax eggs by whisking together ground flax seeds and water. Set aside to thicken.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg. Whisk well to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the hot water and molasses together. Once combined, add the sugar, oil, vanilla, and flax eggs. Mix well until everything has combined.
- Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter has formed. Don't over-mix.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spread it evenly, and smooth out the top.
- Vegan Gluten-Free Version - Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take care not to overbake.All-Purpose Flour Version - Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take care not to overbake.
- Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Let the pan sit for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, using the parchment overhang, carefully remove the cake from the pan, and place it on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
- Once fully cooled, frost the cake, making the layer as thick or thin as you'd like. Save any leftover frosting for another recipe.
- Slice the cake into 9 squares.
- Please read all of the information and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
- The cup amount for both types of flour is the same but the weights are different because they have different properties and densities. If you are baking by weight, please take note of each weight and weigh your flour correctly.
- If you are making the vegan gluten-free version, it's important to know that different gluten-free flour blends use different ingredients and ratios, so results will always vary if you substitute. I have never used any other brand of flour to make this recipe (other than Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour (Amazon link) in the red bag, NOT the blue bag), so please know that your results may not be the same as mine if you substitute with another gluten-free flour blend. This recipe will NOT work with coconut flour or any other single gluten-free flour.
- Use molasses labelled "fancy," “unsulphured,” “dark,” or “baking.” Avoid using blackstrap molasses since its flavour is so strong and can be bitter, it will also overpower the flavour of the cake.
- Coconut sugar can be used instead of brown sugar, however, each type calls for a different amount, so make sure to use the correct amount for the type you are using.
- Any type of neutral-flavoured oil can be used, such as safflower or sunflower. Melted coconut oil can also be used, but if you do use coconut oil, make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so it doesn't harden when it's added to the recipe.
- I recommend dairy-free cream cheese frosting for this cake, but you can use whatever type you'd like. Find other vegan frosting recipes here. If you don't want to use frosting, that's okay, you can dust the tops of each slice (or the entire cake if it will all be served immediately) with powdered sugar just before serving or you can skip all toppings and serve it plain. See the "Decorating and Serving It" section above for more info.
- Storing Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days, the gluten-free version will keep for 4 days. Serve cold or bring to room temperature. If you are not frosting the cake, it can be kept at room temperature.
- Freezing: Once fully cooled, don't frost or slice it, instead, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap so it's airtight, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze it for up to two months. When you're ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature, then frost.
- The nutrition info listed below is based on one of 9 servings made as the recipe is written using gluten-free flour, brown sugar, and no frosting. The cake made with all-purpose flour has a calorie count of 204 per serving. Info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.