Pain d’Epices

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you health, wealth and happiness. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me here at Capturing the Seasons. I look forward to sharing my many coming adventures with you.

Several years ago before Christmas, I was browsing through the delicatessen of a fancy department store when a man with a French accent asked me if I would like to sample some Pain d’Epices. Not one to say no to a sample of something I suspect will be delicious, I accepted and bit into a moist piece of the spiced cake. As I munched, I was already trying to figure out how to ask for another sample. He told me about the cake, where it was made and what it is best served with, and I thought I should be able to make this myself. After speaking to him for a few moments, and thanking him for a second sample, I walked away. While being pushed into sampling some candied chestnuts, another traditional Christmas sweet, (which by the way are much to0 sweet for my taste, although I love them when roasted) I wondered if making Pain d’Epices was like making Christmas pudding: baking it weeks in advance and then letting it sit to soak up the spirits used and for the flavor to unfold.

Last year I gifted my mother Mimi Thorisson’s beautiful “French Country Cooking” and in it is a recipe for Pain d’Epices. Now, I had no excuse not to try it. Making Pain d’Epices is actually quite simple. While this recipe is not overly sweet, I think I actually like it better that way. Many serve this bread or cake with foie gras, but I like it just fine with a smear of sweet butter or a piece of aged cheese. I think this would make a fine addition to a cheese board or to a brunch buffet. And let it be said, this cake does not taste like Christmas and while it may be more fitting for autumn and winter, I could definitely eat it year round.

For those of you who are participating in a “(refined) Sugar Free January”, this recipe is also for you. The sweetener is honey!

Pain d’Epices

(slightly adapted from “French Country Cooking”)

  • 120 g all purpose flour
  • 30 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g ground hazelnuts
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 160 ml runny honey
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180° C and grease a small loaf pan with butter.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and add the honey, butter and egg yolk. Mix well. Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool before slicing.


2 Replies to “Pain d’Epices”

  1. Judy Miles says: Reply

    Having 5 lbs of hazelnuts in my freezer I look for ways to use them, and this looks delicious! Your photography and set ups could make even a picky eater want to try it. Beautiful!

  2. That looks like the perfect way to ring in the new year!

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