Author Topic: French Pain d'Epices -Honey Spice Cake (2 recipe variations)-One with white flour-Second with Rye  (Read 2100 times)

Olga Drozd

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French Pain d'Epices

This version of a famous French spice bread is a compact loaf that anchors its reputation on anise, cinnamon, honey, almonds, citron, orange peel and 3 tablespoons of rum. Slice when cool and spread with butter and honey. It is even better the second or third day.
1 1/4 cups hot tap water (120 F – 130 F)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp. rum
1 tsp. each ground anise seed and cinnamon
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp. chopped blanched almonds
2 tbsp. chopped citron
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

BAKING PANS: One large loaf pan (9 x 5), greased or Teflon, or two small (7 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch) pans. Metal or glass. If the latter, reduce oven heat 25 degrees.

In a small mixing bowl pour water and add sugar, honey, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Stir until it is dissolved. Mix in the rum, anise seed and cinnamon.

Measure flour into a large mixing bowl and pour in the liquid—stirring slowly but thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Drop in the almonds, citron and orange peel. Stir several times to mix throughout the batter. Preheat oven to 450 F. Butter the tins and line with wax paper or parchment paper. Butter again.

Pour the batter into the tin or tins. With a rubber scraper or spoon form a shallow depression down the center of the loaf, with the batter slightly higher along the sides. This will compensate for the rise of the center during baking.

Place the bread in a very hot oven for 10 minutes; REDUCE the heat to moderate (350 F)for an additional 50 or 60 minutes. The loaf will test done when a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and dry.

Remove bread from the oven. Turn the tins on their sides and carefully pull out the loaves by tugging gently on the wax paper. Let the loaves cool (preferably overnight) before slicing thinly. Makes 1 large or 2 small.

The Complete Book Of Breads..Bernard. Clayton, Jr.  
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 10:32:16 AM by Olga Drozd »

Olga Drozd

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Re: French Pain d'Epices - Honey Spice Cake - Julia Child
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2009, 12:16:57 PM »

"Every region in France seems to have its own special spice cake, but this is the pick of the lot", says Julia.

While the dough can be made and baked at once, you'll find that a honey spice cake improves with age--if you make it in mid-December and give it at Christmas, it will be in perfect flavor for New Year's Day.  Although you can prepare the dough by hand, a heavy duty mixer with flat beater attachment makes light work of it, particularly when you are baking a large number.

For an 8-cup loaf, serving 12 or more.


1 1/3 cups honey (1 pound)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda
3 to 4 cups rye flour, as needed


2/3 cup blanched almonds, pulverized*
1 tsp. EACH: almond extract and anise extract
1/4 cup dark rum or bourbon whiskey
1/2 tsp. EACH: cinnamon, ground cloves, and mace
1 cup mixed glaceed fruits (diced, and rinsed in boiling water)


A heavily buttered 8-cup loaf pan, bottom lined with buttered wax paper; a heavy duty mixer with flat beat is especially welcome here.

THE CAKE DOUGH:  Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Beat the honey, sugar, and boiling water in the mixer bowl until the sugar is dissolved.  Beat in the salt and soda, and 3 cups of rye flour.  Beat in as much more flour as the dough will take, to make a heavy, sticky mass that you can still manipulate.  Beat in the additional ingredients.

INTO THE LOAF PAN:  Turn the batter into the prepared pan, filling it by about two thirds.  Dip your fingers in cold water to smooth the top nicely.

BAKING: 1 to 1 1/4 hours or more at 325 F.  Timing depends on the shape of the pan.  Bake in the middle level of the preheated oven.

WARNING:  Do not open the oven door for 45 minutes, and do not shake the pan--this could release the soda-engendered gases and deflate the cake!  The dough will rise to fill the pan, and the top of the cake will crack.

WHEN IS IT DONE?  The cake is done when a skewer plunged to the bottom of the pan comes out completely clean; the cake should also show a slight line of shrinkage from the sides of the pan--better slightly overcooked than undercooked.

 Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in its pan; then unmold onto a rack, peel the paper off the bottom, and gently turn the cake right side up.  When thoroughly cold, wrap airtight and store for a week or more before serving.  It will keep for at least several months under refrigeration.


*TO PULVERIZE NUTS.  You can grate them fine, if you have such a specialized machine.  Otherwise pulverize not more than 1/2 cup at a time in a blender, or 3/4 cup at a time in a food processor with steel blade--ALWAYS adding 1 tablespoon or more of granulated sugar to prevent the nuts from turning oily.  Don't over-pulverize--they should be dry and powdery; otherwise they will lump when you fold them into a batter or egg whites.

Julia Child The Way To Cook
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 10:33:20 AM by Olga Drozd »