A moist homemade gluten-free spice cake that is filled with comforting spices and the rich flavor of molasses. This easy cake recipe doesn’t require a mixer, just follow my step-by-step guide.
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If you haven't had spice cake before, you are in for a treat! Making it from scratch is easier than you think, no need for a boxed cake mix.
This GF cake is fantastic with a dusting of sugar, a glaze, or a creamy frosting. It’s going to be your new favorite winter and holiday cake. Perfect for cold weather days and elegant enough to be served as a Christmas dessert along with a glass of mulled wine.
📖Why This Recipe Works
Bold Flavor- To be fair some might call this a molasses cake. And others will swear it is a gingerbread cake. I think this delicious spice cake recipe is where the Venn diagram of those three cakes intersect. It is the perfect cake to make when you can't decide between a spice cake, a molasses cake, and a gingerbread cake.
The molasses gives the cake a deep, almost fudgy, flavor. And if that is your thing, definitely check out my special GF gingerbread men.
Easy to Make Dairy-Free- You might notice in the pictures that I made this cake free from dairy for the photoshoot. This recipe will work dairy-free and I highly recommend it.
Double Levening Agents- To get the proper rise and fluffy crumb you need both baking soda and baking powder in this recipe.
This cake may be rich and intensely flavored but there are no hidden surprises when it comes to the ingredients.
Gluten-Free Flour Glend- Any blend will do as the base of this cake is fairly basic. I suggest buying a blend like Pillsbury's all-purpose GF flour blend or Bob's Red Mill that already includes the xanthan gum. Single flours, like almond flour or oat flour do not work in this recipe.
Xanthan gum- Must be added to all gluten-free baked goods to mimic the structure of gluten.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda - Yes, you must use both, no substitutes.
Spices -We use all ground dried spices in this cake including ginger, cinnamon, and clove. If you don't have the individual spices you can use 3 ½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.
Sugar- I typically always bake with coconut sugar not just for its lower glycemic index but also for its earthy flavor. Any granulated sugar works in this recipe. A 1:1 ratio. I don't recommend brown sugar in this recipe.
Molasses- Using blackstrap molasses is going to make the cake less sweet overall. If you want a sweeter less exotic cake, try old-fashioned molasses. It is delicious either way!
Butter- WNot dairy-free? Regular unsalted butter can be used in this recipe.
Eggs- Let your eggs sit at room temperature while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Milk- Any type works.
Vanilla Extract- Or use vanilla powder or vanilla paste.
Garnishes- All garnishes are optional. I prefer powdered sugar and our candied orange slices but without the chocolate. Other options include whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, ice cream, or even a dark chocolate drizzle.
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Spice Cake Variation
You only need to replace the milk and butter. I use vegan butter from Earth Balance but any dairy-free butter will work. I like almond milk in this recipe.
Vegan Spice Cake Variation
To make this recipe vegan make the adjustments for dairy and substitute flax eggs.
Combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. This is for one flax egg so you will need to double for this recipe.
⏲️How to Make Gluten-Free Spice Cake
This spice cake is a basic gluten-free cake recipe. Dry ingredients, and wet ingredients, combine and rest. But with a twist.
We are going to warm our wet ingredients to dissolve the sugar in the molasses.
For the cake pans, you can use 2 regular 8-inch round cake pans to make a layer cake, a bundt cake pan, or a 9x13 pan to make a sheet cake. Just adjust the times slightly.
I use a springform pan to make getting it out easy.
Start by preheating your oven to 350 F degrees and lightly grease a springform pan.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Place a medium-sized saucepan over low to medium heat. Add the molasses and sugar, whisking constantly until sugar has melted. Whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat to cool for a few minutes.
Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the milk mixture into the warm sugar mixture. Whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Slowly pour the warm mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold the batter until no lumps remain. The batter will be thick. Allow the cake batter to rest for 15 minutes to hydrate the flour.
Pour the batter into your cake pan and evenly spread. The cake is done when your cake tester (i.e. a toothpick) comes out clean. Usually 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack in the pan.
Carefully remove the cooled cake from the pan and garnish or frost as desired.
🎂 GF Spice Cake Tips
- This cake comes together quickly, pre-measure all your ingredients before starting.
- Don't skip resting the batter. Gluten-free cakes benefit from rehydrating the flour before cooking.
- Allow the cake to completely cool in the pan. This could take a couple of hours.
- For an extra gingery cake, add ⅓ cup diced candied ginger to the batter.
🍰 How to Store Your Cake
This cake is gluten-free and dairy-free. As long as it is not frosted, the cake can be kept at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Cover with cake cloche or loosely cover with plastic wrap.
If the cake is frosted store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
🧁 More Gluten-Free Cake Recipes
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, substitute 2 flax eggs or use a commercial egg replacer.
Yes, just scoop the batter into lined muffin tins and reduce baking time to 20-22 minutes.
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Gluten-Free Spice Cake
- 1 cup molasses I used blackstrap but old-fashion will give a lighter flavor and color
- 1 cup granulated sugar use coconut sugar or white sugar
- 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter see notes for dairy free
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup milk see notes for dairy free
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar optional garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly butter a 10-Inch springform pan. Or two 8-inch round pans for a layer cake
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.3 cups gluten-free flour blend, ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground clove, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Place a medium-sized saucepan over low to medium heat. Add molasses and sugar. Whisk constantly until sugar has melted. Whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat.1 cup molasses, 1 cup granulated sugar, 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into the warm mixture. Whisking constantly.2 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Slowly pour the warm mixture into the dry ingredients. Whisk until no lumps remain. The batter will be thick. Rest the batter for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the springform pan and evenly spread. Bake until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar or frost as desired.powdered sugar
- The cake can be kept at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Cover with cake cloche or loosely cover with plastic wrap.
- If you frost your cake then you need to refrigerate.
- If you generally find blackstrap molasses too bitter use regular old-fashioned molasses. It will make for a sweeter cake. The cake will be lighter in color than my version.
- Substitute vegan butter and almond milk.