Pain d'Epices...well...sort of...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I hope all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving!

Pain d'Epices is one of my favorite holiday treats from France.  I have fond memories of eating it along with a nice, hot cup of tea in the afternoon.  You can get it around Christmas at the many Marchés de Noël (Christmas markets) that pop up in towns all over France.  Whenever I am in France for Christmas I usually stock up on it and bring it home because it is so yummy!  
Traditional Pain d'Epices comes from the Alsace region of France. It is sometimes compared to gingerbread, although does not traditionally contain ginger. Traditional Pain d'Epices is made from a dough of honey and flour that is allowed to age for several months, called "pâte mère." Once the aging is completed, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and anise are added, along with candied orange peel.  Real Pain d'Epices is a labor of love, made by professional bakers who are masters of their craft.  I have never tried to replicate the real thing because, let's face it, it's impossible unless you are a French baker.  
My version of Pain d'Epices takes some of the flavors I love from the real thing, in an easy to make recipe.  This bread comes out moist and flavorful.  I love it with a cup of tea or coffee.  It is my tribute to the French, even if it doesn't come close to the real thing.  I hope you will try it because it's quite yummy.  

Sort of Pain d'Epices
(this makes two loaves)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 4 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or you can use ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cups apple sauce
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two loaf pans generously with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, orange zest, nutmeg, and baking soda.  Set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, add the orange extract, apple sauce, and eggs.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well after each addition.  Pour the batter equally into both loaf pans.  Bake 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  

Until next time, happy and HEALTHY cooking and EATING!


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