Pain D’Epices

I had this post all done last night. It was quite possibly the best thing I had ever written. The words just flowed from my fingertips and onto my screen. I even spell checked and edited, something I rarely remember to do. I tagged and categorised the post and finally hit publish. At that point a message I had never seen but often wished for appeared. It said “Are you sure?” My spidey senses started tingling at this point, because even though there have been times when I needed an “are you sure” option, I knew this would not turn out well. I clicked yes, but the same screen reappeared. I clicked no and was returned to my edit post screen, except all of the words that had so magically flowed from my fingertips were now gone. I searched for an auto save version, but there were none. The post had just disappeared into the interweb.

Thankfully I still had some of these mini Pain D’épices to console myself with. I had made them after a long day of Christmas shopping and tree decorating to keep my holiday spirit up. The honey and spices are perfectly Christmas-ey. The flavours intensify and meld over time, so this is one of those recipes best made in advance. French spice loaves are generally very dense, and this one is no exception. I followed Laura Calder’s recipe and made very few modifications. I baked it in mini loaf molds rather than a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, I infused the milk with anise seed instead of grinding the seeds, and I sugared the molds instead of flouring them to create a sugar crust on the sides of the loaves. The recipe is quite easy to follow, and doesn’t require any special equipment. The loaves would pair well with a cream cheese icing, but I decided to eat them as is.

Pain D’épices

Recipe by Laura Calder

  • 2/3 cup dark honey
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3-4 anise seeds
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar and 1 tbsp butter for the mold
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a mini loaf pan with the butter and pour a little sugar into each mold. Tap the pan to spread the sugar around each mold then discard any excess.
    2. In a medium saucepan, bring the honey, sugar, milk, butter, anise seeds and orange zest to a boil. Set aside to cool as the rest of the ingredients are prepared.
    3. Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large bowl. Dig a well into the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg into the well.
    4. Discard the anise seed from the milk mixture, and then pour the milk into the well. Whisk the milk into the flour until combined.
    5. Pour an equal amount of batter into each mold. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean. If using a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan bake for about 50 minutes.
    6. Let the loaves cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Cover in plastic wrap let the flavours blend together for about 24 hours.



13 thoughts on “Pain D’Epices

  1. Oh no!! I’ve had that happen, its a terrible feeling. But your mini pain d’epices look amazing! They’re adorable! I’ve never had one before but I would love to try out this recipe. Yum!

  2. Why is it always the great posts that go AWOL… still, I love the recipe, and your tweaks to the original, I’m going to be adding it to my ‘to do’ list right now.

  3. Oh, I hate it when that happens. It happened to me abut 6 posts ago, and I was so mad. I was using a library computer, and for some reason, Blogger didn’t like it. Now I always copy a post before I hit publish. Its so frustrating isn’t it?

    Your little loaves look delicious and I hope they made up for the pain of losing the post. I would love to make these and use them in a little bread and butter pudding. Don’t know why, but I’ve been on a pudding kick recently.

  4. Oh, ugh, Lynn! I’ve had that happen. Not quite the same way, but my computer does this thing that drives me nuts, where if I accidentally send the cursor back a little higher in my writing, it delete everything I’ve written to that point. I think it’s supposed to be some sort of aut-correct feature, but I can’t figure out how to turn it off!

    But the bread looks delicious!

  5. Oh noes! I hate it when the interwebs eats a really wonderful post just as you’re about to publish. Thankfully, it’s only happened to me once, but that’s still enough to know what a pain in the butt it is. :(
    Love these pretty little loaves. They look good enough to give out as Christmas gifts, though I’d probably be tempted to keep them all to myself (yes, I’m grinchy like that).
    BTW, a very happy holiday to you and yours. Hope there are many more delicious treats for you in the days to come.

  6. Please believe me when I had a painful stab of empathy when reading about the disappearance of content! That happened to me once but it was a 5 page paper when I was in graduate school. Wish I had your pain d’epice back then!

    Your photos are gorgeous. I’m particularly drawn to the closeup of the spices on the cheesecloth. It’s lovely. Also like the pop of citrus color.

  7. Your sweet bread sounds sooooo good, love the flavors! I am craving a treat with cardamom, this recipe would be perfect to satisfy that craving:-) Have a very Happy New Year! Hugs, Terra

  8. You saved the day!!! And you definitely deserved these delicious rewards…I’ve never made a chocolate version, but I need to try them :) Beautiful photos!!!

  9. Late to the party! Found your blog via Gojee, and am loving it so far. Quick question, if you happen to remember – how well do these keep? I bake muffins & other quick breads for my husband to take to work for breakfast, but a lot of them tend to dry out horribly after a few days in the fridge.

    1. They’ll keep well for 3-4 days, after that they will start to dry out. Just keep them wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

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