I’ve been getting into the holiday spirit recently, and over the weekend I decided to have a gluten-free gingerbread day at my house. I made a Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf, a spicy and deliciously moist gingerbread, and then figured that since I had everything out already, I might as well make gingerbread men with my kids, too. I was using all the same ingredients (just in different amounts), so it made clean-up much simpler, as well. By the end of baking time, the whole house smelled wonderful, and we had a pile of gluten-free and nut-free goodies to enjoy!
I started by making the Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf, purely so that I could have some as a mid-afternoon snack once it was cooled. The first thing I did was combine dark brown sugar, softened butter, applesauce (so that I didn’t have to use as much butter), an egg, a splash of vanilla, and a generous amount of molasses. My favorite flavors in gingerbread come from the dark brown sugar and molasses. However, it didn’t look super appetizing in the bowl once it was mixed, so I’ll stick with the before-mixing picture:
Next, I mixed the dry ingredients together – gluten-free flour, gluten-free rolled oats, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt – in a second bowl. I always make sure the gluten-free flour I use is nut-free, as my daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts (some gluten-free mixes contain almond meal). I made sure to really bump up the amounts of the spices I used. It’s a gingerbread loaf, after all, and you need to make sure it’s sufficiently spicy to have that yummy gingerbread flavor.
Once the dry ingredients were combined, I added them to the wet ingredients. The bowlful of goodness was yummy looking, but a little stiff. There is one more ingredient to add: 1 cup of hot water. The picture on the left is before the hot water; the one on the right has the water mixed in. This will really help to keep the gingerbread loaf nice and moist, even though it looks too thin once you add the water.
The amount of batter this made was perfect for my larger bread loaf pan, and one mini loaf pan.
I baked the loaves at 350 degrees, but pulled the mini loaf pan out at 25 minutes, and left the larger loaf pan in for 45 minutes. Once it was cooled, it sliced nicely with just a little crumbling, which meant to me it was super moist! See the recipe at the end of the post for Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf.
Now, part two of the gingerbread party was gingerbread men cookies. However, I have never, ever, found a better recipe than this one: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/soft-chewy-gluten-free-gingerbread-men/
It’s the best gluten-free gingerbread man cookie I’ve ever made, and I’ve made them for multiple years without any issues, so I don’t see any reason to change how I’ve always made them (at least since I found that recipe!). I follow the recipe closely; the only changes I make I noted below, which are suggestions in the recipe, anyway.
My preferred method, after following all of the recipe’s instructions and combining the ingredients, is to mix it all together until the dough is in chunks (but still dry), then use my hands to knead the dough together instead of continuing to attempt stirring the dry bits into the dough. Look how nicely the dough comes together! Then, I refrigerate the dough for a half hour or so, and then it’s ready to be rolled out on parchment paper with a little gluten-free flour.
As my kids and I rolled out the dough and cut out our gingerbread men, I kept each pan of raw cookies in the fridge for a few minutes (as we filled one pan, it went into the fridge, when the second was ready, I put the first in the oven and the second in the fridge). This ensured that, since we had used chilled dough and chilled the cut-outs, the gingerbread men did not spread in the oven.
I’d say these were a complete success, as always! My kids love them because they have a nice gingerbread flavor, but are fairly mild (compared to the amount of molasses and spices I put in the Gingerbread Loaf, which you can see the difference in color in the photos). And, as always, these are gluten-free and nut-free, so the whole family enjoyed them.
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Loaf
• ½ cup of dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup of applesauce (unsweetened)
• ¼ cup of softened butter
• 1 egg
• 1 cup unsulphered molasses
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla
• 1 ¼ cups of gluten-free flour blend (needs to contain xanthan gum already)
• 1 ¼ cups of gluten-free rolled oats
• 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda
• 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons of ginger
• 1 teaspoon of cloves
• 1 teaspoon of allspice
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 1 cup of hot water
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray. Combine brown sugar, softened butter, applesauce, egg, molasses, and vanilla in one bowl. In a second bowl, combine gluten-free flour blend, gluten-free oats, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Pour in 1 cup of hot water (I microwaved it in a glass measuring cup until hot) and combine. Pour batter into well-greased mini loaf pans (you will need several) or one large and one mini loaf pan. Bake for 25 minutes if using mini loaf pans, or 45 minutes if using large loaf pan, at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for a few minutes; turn out onto cooling racks. Slice once cool.