Since going on an elimination diet, I have been avoiding gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar. I'm also a vegetarian who's allergic to chocolate, bananas, and many nuts [insert pity party here]. So I figured holiday baking would be a bust this year, until I found encouragement from friends on similar diets, delved into the gluten-free blogs, and began playing with new-to-me ingredients. What began as a perceived nightmare soon became a fascinating challenge. Gingerbread has always been one of my favorite fall treats, and I was determined to make a version I could eat. Using the Joy of Cooking's classic applesauce gingerbread recipe as a starting point, I experimented until I came up with a cake containing no gluten, milk, butter, eggs, refined sugar, soy products, xanthan, or guar gums. When my (allergy-free) partner proclaimed that it tasted "like real gingerbread," I felt confident that I could serve it to anyone, not just those of us on crazy diets.
Now let's talk about what the cake does contain: subtly sweet teff and millet flours, nutty flax seeds, creamy coconut oil, and molasses and coconut palm sugar (sugars not to be eaten in excess, but at least unrefined and lower on the Glycemic Index). If you have a favorite GF flour blend, you might give it a try, but I really like the combination of teff flour, millet flour, and potato starch, which work well with the rich sweeteners and spices and keep the cake moist with a lovely crumb. Serve the cake with dairy-free cream, a fruit compote (or fresh fruit, like the persimmons you see here), or a dusting of stevia, and you'll feel festive, not restricted.