• Pecan nut, gingerbread and mushroom loaf with sage-roasted apples and basil pesto has every festive flavour you could want! This is the perfect recipe to serve any vegan or vegetarian guests you have around your Christmas table. In fact, you may want to make two loaves as you’ll have a hard time keeping your carnivorous guests from indulging too!

    Pecan nut, gingerbread and mushroom loaf with sage-roasted apples and basil pesto

    Serves: 6
    Cooking Time: 2 hrs 30 mins


    • Gingerbread

    • oil, to grease
    • 190g cake flour
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) ground ginger
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) ground allspice
    • pinch ground cloves
    • pinch salt
    • 60g vegetable shortening, softened
    • 70g demerara sugar
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 125ml (½ cup) molasses
    • 5ml (1 tsp) apple cider vinegar
    • 125ml (½ cup) boiling water
    • Pecan nut, gingerbread and mushroom loaf

    • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
    • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
    • small handful fresh sage leaves, torn
    • small handful fresh thyme leaves
    • 160g portabellini mushrooms, sliced
    • gingerbread
    • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
    • 80g pecans, blended to a fine crumb
    • 500ml (2 cups) almond milk
    • salt and freshly ground black
    • pepper, to taste
    • Roasted apples

    • 4 Pink Lady apples, some halved and
    • others quartered
    • 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
    • small handful fresh sage leaves
    • Basil pesto

    • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
    • 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
    • 50g almonds
    • To garnish

    • sautéed sliced mushrooms
    • deep-fried sage leaves



    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm-square baking tin with oil and line the base.


    For the gingerbread, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt.


    Using electric beaters, cream the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until smooth.


    Combine the molasses, vinegar and boiling water in a bowl and mix well. Gradually stir this mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake in the oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven (leave the oven on) and allow the gingerbread to cool completely.


    For the pecan nut, gingerbread and mushroom loaf, grease and line a standard loaf tin. Heat the 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil in a pan over low heat and sauté the onions and garlic with the torn sage and thyme, 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and place in a large bowl.


    Heat the same pan over high heat and add the mushrooms. Stir often until cooked, 5 minutes.


    Crumble all of the cooled gingerbread into the onion mixture, add the cooked mushrooms, chopped and ground pecans and almond milk and combine well. Season to taste and pour into the prepared loaf tin. Bake in the oven, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.


    For the apples, toss the apples with the 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil and sage and season to taste. Roast in the oven with the loaf, 30 minutes.


    For the basil pesto, blitz together all of the ingredients until almost smooth.


    Serve the loaf topped with sautéed sliced mushrooms and deep-fried sage leaves. Add a side of roasted apples and basil pesto to finish.


    Cook's tip: If you’re pressed for time and cooking for vegetarians – who eat butter and eggs – simply buy a pre-made gingerbread loaf (about 400g). Crumble and use the crumbs instead of making your own vegan gingerbread.