If you replace molasses with honey and add rye flour to your old-fashioned gingerbread recipe, you’ll end up with a basic pain d’épices, the French take on gingerbread. As its name implies, “bread of spices” is all about the fragrance and warmth of ground aromatics. There are endless spice mix variations and each recipe seems to have its own distinctive blend.
This fruit and spice loaf cake from Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan has the most interesting spice blend of all the pain d’épices recipes I’ve seen. Water is infused with star anise to start off, so immediately we’re given a preview of the arometherapy to come.
Hefty amounts of cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg may seem like overkill, but the combination is surprisingly well-balanced in the suggested amounts. None of the spices stands out too much and as a whole, the effect is quite intoxicating.
The following pain d’epices recipe makes a dense and hearty loaf meant to be sliced very thinly. The bread itself is light on the honey but there is plenty of sweetness from the prunes and apricots. Walnuts and almonds are added for crunch and citrus zest brightens the deep flavors of the spices, rounding out the texture and aroma of the finished loaf.
View Pain d'épices - Pierre Hermé's Fruit and Spice Cake Recipe »