Pioneer Gingerbread

Recipe Categories: 
Recipe Author: 
Micaela Karlsen

As a child, I was a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, and some of my favorites parts of those books are the descriptions of what they ate. Almanzo’s childhood culinary recollections in Farmer Boy are particularly vivid. It sort of sounds like a nonstop year-long dinner party! A few years ago I was fortunate to come across on the internet a letter that Laura, at that time in her 80s, sent to a friend in 1953, enclosing her recipe for gingerbread. It’s been a labor of love to create a healthier version of this pioneer treat that still does justice to the original flavor, but leaves out the eggs and lard. This is a great treat for holidays and special occasions. *Excerpt from A Plant-Based Life by Micaela Karlsen, MSPH

Ingredients: 
  • 3 cups whole-grain flour (I prefer spelt, though if you want to go gluten-free, this is a good opportunity to use buckwheat. Try half buckwheat and half oat.)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Put maple syrup, applesauce, molasses, and white vinegar in a second medium bowl.
  4. Bring kettle of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add 1 cup hot water to the wet ingredients, and stir.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing, but be careful to not over-stir. The mixture should be quite thin.
  6. Transfer batter to a 9 x 13–inch glass pan, and bake for 35 minutes.
  7. Serve as is, or, for a more traditional gingerbread experience, top with a dollop of Cashew Cream sweetened with a bit of maple syrup.


Yield: Serves 10 to 12

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