This honey spice cake is a traditional French quick bread thought to have originated in Reims courtesy of a pastry cook from Bourges and made famous by the endorsement of Charles VII and his mistress Agnes Sorel. Sweetened entirely with honey, it was often sold by honey merchants alongside their jars of liquid sweetness.
I am excited to bring you this recipe for Pain d’epices, as not only is it delicious but with the left overs you can also whip up a little Carbonades flamandes traditionnelles (Traditional Carbonade Flamande) – perfect for a cold winters evening.
Recipe adapted from Girls Guide to Paris
What you need:
- 1½ cups (350 ml) milk
- 1 cup (300 grams) full bodied honey
- grated zest of 1 small orange
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (125 grams) buckwheat flour (or traditionally rye flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2½ teaspoons of sweet quatre espices (blend of allspice, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon)
How you do it:
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 9-inch loaf pan with baking parchment.
Step 2: Heat the milk and honey together in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the honey has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the grated orange zest. Set aside to cool.
Step 3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl and then mix in the honey, milk and zest. Don’t worry if the batter looks quite liquidy and foamy – it is supposed to be that way.
Step 4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is deeply golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean
Step 5. Let it cool completely before slicing and then enjoy (with a cup of you favourite tea)