Le Pain aux Epices : A slice of sunny land

We have a ridiculous amount of ginger related products in our kitchen at the moment. Every time I opened the pantry cupboard, I can’t help but laugh at the sight of packets of gingersnaps, chewy ginger biscuits, ginger tablets, candied ginger, crystallised ginger and ground ginger.

Most of it was purchased recently by B who had bought himself a Playstation 3 for his birthday and then discovered that one of the games caused him to suffer from motion sickness. I used to feel nauseous as well when playing Doom and Heretic. Gosh, remember those classic games? I had a conversation with someone about games a couple of months ago, and was surprised that he didn’t know what Doom was. Ah heck, now I’m really showing my age, aren’t I!

Anyway, B read that eating ginger is apparently a natural way of reducing nausea, and subsequently went out and bought what seems to be every conceivable ginger product available – excepting ginger beer, which he categorically doesn’t like. Funnily enough, he has barely touched any of his purchases, which means the task has been left to me to expand my waistline by plowing through the biscuits and candied ginger (which I absolutely love).

Which is why I’ve also been inspired to contribute to our ginger tally with this spice cake by Michel Bras. His recipe (below) doesn’t contain any ginger, but in the spirit of things, I altered it slightly to include candied ginger as well as ground ginger.

As soon as this cake came out of the oven, I made myself a cup of tea and sampled a slice. It was wonderfully spicy and not very sweet. Michel Bras calls it a “quiet pleasure, a relaxation, a special moment, with a taste of spices that carry you away to a sunny land”. A heart-warming and very apt description indeed!

Ginger and Le Pain aux Epices is my contribution to this week’s WHB, hosted by Joanna of Joanna’s Food.

Le Pain aux Epices :
(from The Notebooks of Michel Bras, by Michel Bras)

100g honey
100g sugar
75g butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
30g candied orange peels
4 orange zests
4 lemon zests
110g rye flour
110g flour
20g baking soda
1 teaspoon (3g) anise seed
18g cinnamon
9g nutmeg
2g cloves
45g slivered almonds

Grind the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, butter and water. Melt over low heat. Let cool and set aside.

Mince the candied orange peels and the zests. Then, mix with a little flour.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking soda, powdered spices, and anise seed. Add the minced peels and zest. Gradually add the honey mixture. Beat for 10 minutes. Add the almonds.

Butter a 22cm aluminium pan and dust with flour. Fill it with batter, cover with a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes in preheated 160’C oven. Remove the baking sheet and continue to bake 45 to 60 minutes at 150’C. During baking, when the cake begins to form a crust, make a 1cm lengthwise cut to help the cake develop more fully. Insert a skewer to check that the cake is done.

As soon as it comes out of the oven take it out of the pan and let cool on a rack. At this point, the cake will freeze well.


  1. B said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

    You did not eat my candied ginger! Well, don’t blame me if I’m playing Half-Life 2 after dinner one night and can’t find a bucket in time!

  2. Y said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

    Hahaha.. I didn’t eat it ALL. What do you take me for! (Ok, don’t answer that one.. we all know how quickly things disappear from the kitchen cupboard! 😀 )

  3. barbara said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

    I made one of these this week and have put it in the freezer to see how it freezes. I used a Chocolate and Zucchini recipe.

  4. Y said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

    Barbara, will you be blogging about it? I’d be interested to compare the two. I used to rely on a different recipe that was more sweet, and cakier, but this one I feel is more authentic.

  5. Joanna said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 7:04 pm

    Love that it’s not too cakey (if that’s a word!)


  6. Aran said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

    I love pain des epices…. i used to make it at work all the time, cut it tinto super thin slices, toasted and use it as garnish for a licorice creme brulee… i loved that dessert!

  7. chocolatesuze said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

    NOT know what doom was?! that was my favourite game! all the blood and guts and gore hurhur good times. im going thru a chocolate covered ginger phase atm

  8. Y said,

    June 19, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    Thanks Joanna. I think cakey is a word.. if not, it should be! 😀

    Aran: We used to use pain d’epice for various things at one of the places I worked too. I loved snacking on the end bits!

    Chocolatesuze: Ah, that’s one thing I haven’t had. Chocolate covered ginger. I kind of like my crystallised ginger as is 🙂

  9. grace said,

    June 20, 2008 @ 2:38 am

    yum. i love those spices, and the end result looks deeeeliciously moist. in this case, the ginger would cause the nausea because i’d eat so much of it…

  10. Cakelaw said,

    June 20, 2008 @ 10:31 pm

    I’d gladly help you eat all those ginger products, including this – I love ginger!!!!

  11. Lorraine E said,

    June 22, 2008 @ 9:03 am

    Hehe when I read that the ginger was purchased by B, I thought “huh?” and then the explanation made sense. In effect so that he could play his Playstation 3 without threat of motion sickness, just like a guy! LOL

  12. syrie said,

    June 26, 2008 @ 9:48 am

    Looks gorgeous. This is just the kind of recipe I’m looking for for afternoon tea. Cheers.

  13. Jude said,

    June 30, 2008 @ 5:28 am

    This is going to smell insanely good while baking in the oven.. I’m going to bookmark this one 🙂

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