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French Spice Cake (Pain d’épices)
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.
grams (1¾ cups) all-purpose flour
grams (1 cup) almond flour
01Heat the oven to 325ºF with a rack in the upper-middle position. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the cinnamon, baking soda, ground ginger, mace, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and honey until smooth. Add the milk, eggs, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger and orange zest; whisk until thoroughly combined.
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