‘Tis the season for Gingerbread. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had it before I made it for this here bloggy blog.
When I went to start making this, I realized I was out of coconut sugar. Damnit. I considered using brown sugar like most gingerbread recipes call for, but figured there would be some kind of revolt if I did.
For this recipe, I reluctantly put on pants and went to the store to buy paleo-approved coconut sugar, to mix with paleo approved molasses – which is made from freaking cane sugar, btw – because I didn’t want a revolt. But I’m over it.
Here’s the thing, you guys: Sugar made from (organic) cane is really not THAT much different than sugar made from trees or bees or coconuts. Sure, some have more nutritional value than others, and some have a lower glycemic index, but none of them are all that great for you. Don’t even get me started on the alcohol sugars. And while we’re at it, molasses is straight up garbage. Like it’s actual garbage – a by-product of making sugar- but is somehow acceptable in Paleo baking. And the variety of molasses that’s the most acceptable in Paleo baking is blackstrap molasses, which is basically the garbage of the garbage. But whatever.
I’m so over it. I have been over it for a while, and the aggravation around this topic has been building. Here’s my request for you: If you notice that eating something makes you feel like crap, definitely don’t eat it. But if the reasons you eat certain things and don’t eat certain things is only based on a list of Paleo Foods / Non Paleo Foods, maybe use some critical thinking. To me, too often it’s just arbitrary. And when we’re talking about things like cake and donuts and things that shouldn’t be eaten on a regular basis anyway, does it really matter?
Also, I’m positive that 96% of the people who scoff at sugar in recipes eat hella dark chocolate with sugar in it. Come at me.
Okay rant over, time for the recipe for this lovely holiday cake. 😉Print
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 20 pieces
- Category: Dessert
- butter (ghee, or shortening for greasing the pan)
- 3 cups almond flour
- 1 1/2 cups tapioca starch (plus more for flouring pan)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup molasses (use true molasses if you can find it)
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca starch, coconut flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and salt.
- In a medium heat proof bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, molasses, fresh ginger, and boiling water. Once it’s lukewarm (the molasses and coconut sugar should take the temperature down enough), whisk in the eggs.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 28-35 minutes*
*full disclosure: I put this in the oven and forgot to set the timer for a minute or 10. I set the timer for 27 minutes, guessing it had been in the oven for 7-8, guessing it would take around 35. It was done after about 22 minutes. What I’m saying is, give it a peek after about 25 minutes to see how it’s doing.
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Liz F says
Ha! Love you even more for the rant. Thanks for keeping it real. If I try this, I’ll have to use an egg sub, which is likely a no go, with 4 eggs. I’ll let you know though, either way, win or fail if I get it done.
I love you a latke for this whole post, especially gingerbread! I agree about the sugar…I just try to buy organic, unbleached, etc. If you are going to bake, how paleo can it be? Maple syrup is my fave and has the best flavor, in my humble opinion…and also I just use less sugar in some recipes and it still turns out (like banana bread).
Aaaaaah, that was a very refreshing rant. Thank you! What I have decided a long time ago.
I’m no expert but saying something that is left over from processing another product is inherently “garbage” is a bit extreme. I’m in no way saying sugar is good for anyone, but if blackstrap molasses is essentially the concentrated minerals from the sugarcane plant, then perhaps it is the only goodness that comes from sugarcane, and that “sugar” is the actual garbage that should be disposed of. While not exactly a true comparison, I might liken it to essential oils distilled from plant material. Other examples where the byproduct is used and not “garbage” – Lard is the byproduct of rendering fat from a cow. Salt is a byproduct of distilling salt water, Olive Oil is the byproduct of olives, etc.
yeah I think you’re taking what I’m saying too literally, which is a bit tongue in cheek. Mostly what I’m saying is that the paleo rules are sometimes silly and when people make a big deal about me using sugar made from cane but eat the shit out of chocolate made with it, it’s dumb. To me.
I also don’t think that every single thing that is made from anything is really a byproduct, but… semantics.
Amy H says
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has an article on blackstrap molasses, and she calls it a super food, and speaks to the nutrient density. Have you read it? I’d be interested in your thoughts.
I have. Hers is the article I checked to confirm that paleo “authorities” do indeed consider it paleo. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with molasses. I also don’t agree with everything Sarah thinks is paleo / not paleo. But she’s a doctor so…
Donna in Inwood says
So I’m going to sidestep the sugar issue entirely and just ask — how’d you make the topping in either or both of the pictures? One looks like powdered sugar / how do you do that for paleo? The other looks like coconut cream – is that it? Thx
Simone Miller says
It’s powdered sugar sifted on top. Because I don’t have an issue with using organic cane sugar when we’re talking about dessert. Also food photography. And just simple whipped cream, could be either coconut or dairy.
Donna in Inwood says
Thanks. I’ll just say something about the sugar issue — I came to paleo for health reasons. I was having monster migraines and digestive issues. It took me about three years to get it under control — working with a nutritionist, changing how I ate, stopping drinking entirely (yes entirely!) and doing lots of acupuncture.
Now I am happy and grateful that the headaches are mostly a thing of the past. However, I know that even small changes in my diet could trigger a headache at any time, so I have to be careful.
Sugar is big issue for migraineurs. There is a researcher named Angela Stanton who is running a big Facebook group for migraine people — putting some of them in a control group, hosting discussions of treatments, etc. And what she has found out is that there’s a big subset of migraine folks who share a lot of traits, and one of these traits is the inability to metabolize sugar efficiently.
She advises people to cut out all sugar, grain, starches, etc., from their diets. In other words, a version of Paleo. I adhere quite strictly to no grain and no starches, and I minimize sugar as much as I can. But I can’t get rid of it entirely.
For me, as a migraineur, I have experimented a lot of various kinds of sugar (and with trying to minimize it as much as possible in my diet), and I can tell you there is absolutely a difference between white sugar and the various versions of unrefined brown sugar. One thing that helped get rid of my headaches was to stop chewing “good” gum from the health food store — brands like Glee Gum, which are made organic cane sugar.
I know that your points are true — i.e., that there are the same amount of carbs in either white or brown, same number of calories, and same amount of time for them to hit the bloodstream.
Still. I am far more likely to get a headache from say, a macaroon made with white sugar than I am from a paleo cookie made with coconut palm sugar. I don’t know what quality of the white sugar makes it more dangerous for me — maybe our measurements of the glycemic content are not precise enough to gauge what is really going on in the bloodstream.
I don’t know. I just know that I dare not touch white sugar — not in Glee Gum nor in a grain-free macaroon, nor in any other form. And that I can consume limited amounts of unrefined brown sugar without getting sick.
As for chocolate, it may be that people who ‘choose” paleo rather than coming to it out of desperation may be eating chocolate bars without concern for the sugar content, but I assure you that the food-sensitive folks in the paleo camp are not eating much chocolate out there. Dark chocolate bars almost invariably trigger a headache in me (and commonly do so for many migrainers) and aside from the sugar issue, there is the soy issue in at least half the brands of designer chocolate out there. They use soy lecithin as a thickener. Anything containing that kind of unfermented soy is just a foil-wrapped package of pain.
I think it’s good to talk about sugar and about the contradictions in some of the sugar rules, but please don’t assume the food-sensitive can handle everything that our less sensitive brethren can handle!
I’m not assuming anything, Donna. I don’t know why you don’t just do what works for you instead of writing a thesis about it in the comments? I’m providing recipes, and sometimes opinions -On MY blog- That I post a crap-ton of free content on. If there is a recipe that you don’t want to make because of your personal health issues, why wouldn’t you just move on and make something else? It’s getting to be a bit much.
Many years ago, before I went gluten free, I used to make a ginger cake with raspberry pear sauce and real whipping cream. It was an elegant dessert at Christmas! It became everyone’s favourite. And this year I used this cake and served it with the same sauce. So good! Loved the cake!
That sounds absolutely amazing, and I’m so glad to hear that this cake was a great stand in for an old favorite!
This was an amazing surprise — it tasted like the gingerbread of my childhood memories. It was like REAL cake! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.
YAY! That’s the best thing to hear, thanks Johanna! <3
Lara Gunther says
Cant wait to try this but I dont have any molasses. Can I substitute maple syrup/honey????
You can, but the molasses is one of the main things that gives it the signature flavor, so I’d buy a small bottle if you want the flavor to be as much like gingerbread as possible.
I made this a last month (or the one before, who remembers? quarantine living…). It is fabulous. So much so that I’ve decided to go rogue this year and make it my birthday cake tomorrow (May 28th). I am going to attempt to pour it into 2 round cake pans instead of the 9 x 13 pan. I am also going to make a lemon buttercream frosting for it (with real organic powdered sugar, because it’s my birthday and I do not scoff at the sugar *enough maybe*, but again – quarantine living and quarantine birthday so WTF?) — thank you for inspiring me to look beyond other birthday cake ideas this year! xo
haha no kidding right? What day / month is it even? 100% with you that quarantine birthday requires some sugar. Happy (as possible) birthday!
My birthday cake was so good that I gave away half to our close family friends for safety reasons (haha!). Myself and my boys enjoyed the rest of it immensely. My 8 year old son says it was better than chocolate cake (he is a chocoholic!). A new favorite combination. Again: I LOVE YOUR RECIPES! Thank you!
Thanks for reporting back, Sheryl! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and have a good birthday 🙂
So that I don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe in a size larger (LOL) I’m going to halve this recipe since there are just 2 of us. I swear if I made the whole recipe I could eat the whole cake in one sitting. I am a ginger fiend and this recipe looks amazing! Plain whipping cream on top please!!!
haha that’s a fantastic idea. This stuff is very easy to eat. I hope you love it!
Rachel D says
You just gained a subscriber for this! This is the kind of recipe intro I’m looking for! And will definitely be making these soon because holy crap they sound delicious.
Thanks, Rachel! I hope you love it.
So good. Used 1/2 maple sugar, 1/2 dark brown sugar, because I <3 sugar
YUM. Glad you loved!
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. It is absolutely delicious! It reminds me of the gingerbread my mom used to make when I was kid. She’d serve it with hot cinnamon applesauce, which is what I did, and what memories it brought back! I did bake it for 35 minutes and it turned out perfectly! I also used parchment paper in my baking dish since I was too lazy to grease it and sprinkle with tapioca starch:).
Amy S. says
First of all: I love you! You have no idea how life-changing your recipes are for those of us who love to eat but can’t eat a variety of common foods for health reasons. I’m not kidding- if you’re ever having a bad day, come back to this comment- your generosity in sharing your knowledge and craft and Louie… You’re perfect.
Cane sugar makes all of us in my family ill for days. We just can’t do sugar anymore- it’s coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup- or it’s a pass. I made this recipe and it’s frickin’ awesome; it’s a new Christmas season tradition. NOW ABOUT THE MOLASSES. I substituted date molasses! I’d never heard of it before, but in a flash of inspiration, discovered it in an online grocery search. I got an 800g jar for $6.99. While I can’t speak to any difference in taste there might be not using cane molasses, nobody here had any complaints. They mucked it! Hope this helps. xo from Canada
First of all, THANK YOU, Amy! This is so sweet to hear and I will definitely come back to this comment when I need some love 🙂 And that’s awesome about the date molasses! I’m glad you found that, and I will look for it too. I’ve had date syrup, which is awesome. I wonder if it’s similar?
David Churchill says
I had been meaning to make this for so long and Christmas Eve was finally the time I did it. It was the hit. Everyone loved it and so did I. Really great recipe!