Healthy Gingerbread Loaf
Published Dec 13, 2021, Updated May 08, 2023
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A lightened up gingerbread loaf made with applesauce instead of oil and maple syrup instead of sugar. It’s packed with warm spices and topped with a delicious maple cream cheese frosting.
Are you looking for a recipe that encompasses the holiday flavors? This is it. This gingerbread loaf is Christmas in a pan and I can’t wait to make it this holiday season! It’s super simple to make and the maple cream cheese frosting is to die for. I can’t wait for you to try it!
Why You Need to Try This Recipe
- It’s the perfect loaf for your holiday spread!
- Enjoy it for brunch or dessert – it’s delicious anytime.
- No kneading or rising time needed, this quick bread is super simple to make!
- all-purpose flour – most of this bread is made with all-purpose flour but I did mix in some whole wheat pastry flour for extra nutrients. I didn’t test this with a gluten-free blend but you should be able to swap for a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
- whole wheat pastry flour – whole wheat pastry flour works better than regular whole wheat flour if you’re looking for the light and fluffy bread that regular all-purpose flour provides, but still want the nutrients of whole wheat flour. My go-to brand is Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour you can also use white whole wheat flour, regular whole wheat flour or just regular all-purpose flour.
- baking powder and baking soda – helps the loaf rise.
- salt – to bring all of the flavors together.
- spices – a combination of ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves is the flavor base of this recipe.
- applesauce – keep the calories down by using applesauce in place of oil. Don’t worry, the end result is still a moist loaf! Store-bought or homemade applesauce works well.
- pure maple syrup – a natural sweetener that pairs perfectly with the rest of the flavors! I haven’t another liquid sweetener in place of the maple syrup, but I bet you could use honey or agave if preferred.
- blackstrap molasses – a key ingredient for the gingerbread flavor!
- eggs – either use two regular eggs at room temperature or swap for two flaxseed eggs to make this bread vegan.
- vanilla extract – a flavor enhancer.
- unsweetened almond milk – any milk works but I used unsweetened almond milk. Check out my post on how to make almond milk at home.
- maple cream cheese frosting – possibly the best part?! A delicious combination of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup. You can use vegan cream cheese and vegan butter if needed!
How to Make Homemade Gingerbread
Combine ingredients: In a medium bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the applesauce, maple syrup, molasses, eggs, vanilla and milk. Whisk until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Make sure you don’t over mix or the bread will be too dense.
Bake: Pour the batter into a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper or well-greased. Bake at 350ºF for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you notice that the top is browning too much, you can cover it with tin foil.
Cool: Allow the loaf to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing it from the pan. If you try to remove it too soon, it will crumble!
Make frosting: As the loaf cools, make the frosting using a stand mixer or hand mixer. Combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Once the loaf has cooled, spread over the gingerbread loaf and enjoy!
pro tip! Don't over mix the batter or your loaf will turn out too dense!
Vegan – to make this loaf vegan, use a flaxseed egg. Mix 2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 6 Tablespoons of warm water. Set aside to let the mixture gelatinize. Use vegan cream cheese (I like Kite Hill cream cheese!) and vegan butter for the frosting.
Gluten-free – I haven’t tested this with gluten-free flour but you should be able to swap the all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour 1:1 with a gluten-free flour blend.
How to Serve Gingerbread Loaf
Like I mentioned earlier, this could be a part of a brunch spread or set out as part of your dessert table for the holidays! I’m dreaming of an epic holiday brunch. Here’s what I would serve with this:
How to Store Leftovers
After allowing your loaf to cool completely, you can either frost before storage or wait to frost right before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. For longer storage, I recommend leaving the frosting off and freezing for up to 3 months.
More Gingerbread Recipes to Try
The Most Popular Quick Breads
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Check out all the quick bread recipes on EBF!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup applesauce
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup blackstrap molasses
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk, any milk will work
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves.
- In a large bowl, whisk together applesauce, maple syrup, molasses, eggs, vanilla and milk until combined.
- Add dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined (don’t over mix).
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If you notice the top is browning quickly, cover it with tin foil to prevent burning.
- Let loaf cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan and frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a regular bowl if using a hand mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup. Whisk until smooth and fluffy. Spread over gingerbread loaf and serve.
- Cinnamon sugar topping: If you don’t want top the loaf with frosting, you can make a cinnamon sugar topping by combining 2 Tablespoons of coconut sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Vegan: To make this loaf vegan, use a flaxseed egg. Mix 2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 6 Tablespoons of warm water. Set aside to let the mixture gelatinize. Use vegan cream cheese (I like Kite Hill cream cheese!) and vegan butter for the frosting.
- Gluten-free: I haven’t tested this with gluten-free flour but you should be able to swap the all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour 1:1 with a gluten-free flour blend.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.