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French Spice Cake (Pain d’épices)

1 9-inch loaf

1 hr 25 min 10 min active

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Homemade baked goods are all but mandatory at the holidays, and the classic French spice cake pain d’épices is a fine choice. Sliced, toasted and topped with butter or marmalade, it works as a quick breakfast or afternoon coffee accompaniment. Leave the loaf whole and you have a gift for friends and holiday guests. That’s thanks to the heavy doses of ginger and honey in the batter, which keep the cake fresh for two weeks. For a fruitier version, add 1 cup of golden raisins, chopped dates, figs or dried apricots. We learned that melting the butter in a liquid measuring cup in the microwave, then using the same cup for the honey made it easy to measure out and add the honey; it slid right out. For maximum spice flavor, we used black pepper and three kinds of ginger. If you can’t find crystallized (candied) ginger, just skip it; the cake still will be delicious. And if you can’t find ground mace, substitute ¼ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and allspice.


9-inch loaf


Don’t use baking spray in place of butter. While it’s fine in many situations, butter helps create the dark crust that sets pain d’épices apart from other quick breads. Use melted butter and a pastry brush to coat it liberally over the inside of the pan.

1 hr 25 min

10 min active


  • 228

    grams (1¾ cups) all-purpose flour

  • 100

    grams (1 cup) almond flour


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Bob I.
December 13, 2022
New Fave Cake
I've made this 3 times now and everyone raves. Could you tell me baking times in a 4 up mini loaf pan for Christmas gifts?
Lynn P.
November 18, 2022
Absolutely the Best Toasted
As happens with MS there are loads of spices in this cake. My first instinct was that it was too much. Out of the pan the cake is nice and full of flavor. Once toasted, however, it's elevated. The warm spices are very comforting on a cold morning. Fantastic Cake....
Jane E.
January 4, 2023
I over baked it
This is the kind of recipe I would like for a cake or sweet bread, -honey, cinnamon, ginger. Especially ginger, ginger, ginger. It was a fair bit of work, but it was worth it. Unfortunately I over baked it a couple of minutes so I would suggest to other bakers- if you test it and it comes out a little bit uncooked, don’t cook it more than two minutes. But it’s a great recipe, and I will keep it.