This is a very traditional cake made around Christmas time in France. If you ever get to go to a French Christmas market, you’ll certainly see some of those on the stall and might be offered a slice along with some mulled wine. There isn’t a specific region that can claim this recipe as it can be traced in Alsace, Dijon and Reims. But it’s specificity is that it’s sweetened principally with honey and contains ground spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and aniseed. This particular recipe comes from Physalis who contributes to the Thermomix forum of Supertoinette. It’s been passed from generation to generation in her family and I can see why as it’s one of the best pains d’épices I ever tasted. It’s moist and wonderfully flavoured, in a word: delicious!
300g plain flour
150g dark brown sugar (muscovado or demerera will work well)
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180C (170C fan oven).
- Melt the butter in the TM bowl 3min/90C/speed 1.
- Add the honey and sugar and mix 10sec/speed3.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, egg and milk and mix 10 sec/speed 6 to get a smooth batter.
- Pour into a buttered loaf tin (I poured half, dotted teaspoons of orange marmalade here and there and poured the other half of the batter on top).
- Bake for 45 minutes (check the colour and cover with foil if it browns too quickly). Then turn down the heat to 150C and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by using a skewer or toothpick that should come out clean.
- Let it cool down and brush with a couple of tablespoons of warmed honey and decorate with pearl sugar or spices.
- After a day, to bring this cake back to freshness, cut into slices and place in your toaster on the lowest setting and you can spread butter on it for an even richer taste (that’s the way people from Alsace eat it!)