Pain d’épices is a French spice cake (or quick bread) that is well-known as a Christmas time pastry in the northeast of France, especially in the regions of Dijon, Alsace, and Reims. It’s a classic French recipe that’s easy to make and doesn’t require a mixer. The loaf keeps for a while, improving as the flavors meld and the cake gets denser thanks to the honey. Many traditional recipes use rye flour, but this one from Milk Street Kitchen uses a combination of all-purpose and almond flour which gives it great texture. Raisins are optional but certainly are a welcomed addition if you use them.
228 grams (1¾ cups) all-purpose flour
100 grams (1 cup) almond flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground mace (or ¼ teaspoon allspice & ¼ teaspoon nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted, plus more for pan
334 grams (1 cup) c honey
½ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh gingerroot
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 cup raisins (optional)
1. Heat 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; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the cinnamon, baking soda, ground ginger, mace, salt and pepper; set aside.
3.In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and honey until smooth and creamy. Add the milk, eggs, crystallized ginger, fresh gingerroot, and orange zest (and raisins if using); whisk until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold only until no dry our remains. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then bake until rm to the touch and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 65 to 70 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely, about 2 hours.