According to our Guide to Eastern European Food, the tradition of baked gingerbread, at least as we know it, appeared in Europe around the time of the Crusades in the 11th century.
Through the centuries gingerbread has taken on various shapes, textures and flavors, depending on the region within Europe that it originated. The types of gingerbread that most of us are familiar with and favor during the holidays are crisp, spicy gingerbread cookies, whimsical gingerbread houses and soft, dark and spicy gingerbread cake. There are dozens of versions of each, hailing from all corners of Europe.
Our recipe for gingerbread loaf with fresh orange glaze is in the English cake-like tradition but with classic American flavors. This loaf is dark, thanks to a good measure of molasses and it's richly spiced with ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. The orange glaze, made with fresh orange zest and orange juice is a delicious alternative to lemon sauce recipes.
Suggested loaf pans for this recipe are one 8x4-inch loaf pan and one 5 3/4 x 3 inch mini loaf pan. Keep one loaf and give one as a gift. Or, you can bake this recipe in a 9x9-inch cake pan.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: 8x4 loaf PLUS 5 3/4 x 3 loaf
- Ingredients for Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses (dark)
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 2 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend / 419 grams / 14.8 ounces
- (Better Batter All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour - a blend of rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, potato four, xanthan gum, pectin (lemon derivative) (see note)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon guar gum (xanthan gum is included in the gluten-free flour blend used in this recipe) - if you are using a gluten-free baking mix that does not contain any gum, ADD 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum in addition to the guar gum called for.
- Ingredients for Fresh Orange Glaze
- 1/2 cup gluten-free powdered sugar
- grated zest of 1/2 of large orange
- 5-6 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- Cook's Note - Weigh your gluten-free flour for best baking results!
Grease one 8x4-inch loaf pan and one 5 3/4 x 3 inch mini loaf pan OR one 9x9-inch cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350° F / 176° C
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until fluffy. Add sugar and beat on high for about one minute. Add eggs and beat to blend. Pour in boiling water and molasses and beat on low until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk gluten-free flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and guar gum. Add xanthan gum if necessary. When thoroughly blended add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Blend on low until combined and then beat on high for about 2 minutes.
Use a spatula to scrape gingerbread batter into prepared loaf pans. Each pan should be filled about 3/4ths full. Use a thin spatula to smooth the top of the batter.
Bake loaves in preheated oven. Bake the mini loaf for about 35-40 minutes or until a digital instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads about 202° F. Bake the 8x4-inch loaf for about 1 hour or until your instant read thermometer reads 202° F. For a 9x9-inch cake pan, bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove loaves from pan and cool on a wire rank for several minutes before glazing. If you baked your gingerbread in a cake pan, set pan on wire rack - you don't need to remove it from the pan before glazing.
While loaves are cooling, prepare the fresh orange glaze. Measure gluten-free powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add fresh orange zest and fresh squeezed orange juice. use a small whisk to beat glaze until it's smooth and at a consistency to brush on loaves. If glaze is too thick, add more orange juice, one teaspoon at a time.
While loaves are warm, brush or drizzle glaze over top and sides of each loaf.
Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.