“Pain aux Epices” is a comforting and incredibly rich cake to enjoy anytime, alone, topped with honey or fig jam, for breakfast or a snack with hot chocolate or a good cup of tea at the end of a cold afternoon. Michel Bras uses generous amounts of spices and citrus to make the experience even more intense.
What I love about this cake is that it brings a quiet kind of pleasure, a cozy sense of relaxation. A perfect treat to be carried away to sunny lands by the taste and flavors of all the spices, enhanced by lemon and orange zest.
Pain d’épices is a French traditional cake made with rye flour, honey and anise seeds. Michel Bras’s Pain aux épices enhances the warmth and comfort of this cake by using generous amounts of spices and citrus.
1/4 cup (100 g) honey
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
5,5 tbsp. (75 g) butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. (15 cl) water
1 oz. (30 g) candied orange peels
4 orange zests
4 lemon zests
1 cup (110 g) rye flour
1 cup (110 g) flour
3/4 oz. (20 g) baking soda
1 tsp. (3 g) anise seeds
2/3 oz. (18 g) cinnamon
1/3 oz. (9 g) nutmeg
7/10 oz. (2 g) cloves
1/2 cup (45 g) slivered almonds
Mix spices together
In a saucepan, combine honey, sugar, butter and water. Melt over low heat. Let cool and set aside.
Mince the candied orange peels, and the zests. Then mix with a little of the flour.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking soda, powdered spices, and anise seeds. Add the minced candied peels and zests. Gradually add the honey mixture. Beat for 10 minutes. Add almonds.
Butter the pan and dust with sugar. Fil it with the batter, cover with a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes in preheated 325 °F (160°C) oven.
Remove the baking sheet, continue to bake 45 to 60 minutes at 300°F (150°C). When the cake starts forming a crust, make a 1/2 in.(1 cm) deep cut lengthwise for the cake to develop fully. Insert a skewer and check that the cake is done. Be careful not to over bake it as it would become dry, when keeping a moist texture is key.
As soon as to comes out of the oven, remove it from the pan and let it cool on a rack. At this point, the cake will freeze well in case you want to save it for later.