pain d’epices the ‘tomcosserat’ way

This is my version on a very French classic spiced ‘bread’ a bit like ginger cake only with a few more levels of flavour.

If you’ve ever walked round a classic French market you will have seen huge pain d’epices loaves being sliced for the hungry customers. This recipe is a bit more manageable at home than the huge coffee table size loaves you see there.

I have a small secret to tell…
this is actually my virgin attempt at pain d’epices, however, it is very easy to make and if you are comfortable with baking (dare I say, like me!), then you can modify the recipe to include may different flavours or textures to suit your taste buds!
Some variations could include; maple syrup, unsulphured apricots & apples to name a few.

Pain d’epices classically contains honey, orange and a number of spices including nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, ginger etc…

As per usual I have added a few little twists to this French classic (don’t tell them they’ll come get me!), mainly in the spices I’ve used.

A very low-key addition is the use of vanilla sugar.

Another very slight change is the use of confit orange instead of orange zest.

Cardamom is added to complement the confit orange, pretty standard combination and it also fits in with the strong ginger accent. Next juniper berries, lavender syrup and corriander seeds add a fruity and vibrant flavour profile lifting this “cake” to a new level.

My original addition is a kind of controversial area as it is not an ingredient found in the kitchen of anybody I know (well maybe I left some at my mums).

It is japanese pepper or sansyo and is an unusual taste; it’s kind of hot a bit like szechwan peppercorns in the way it has a weird numbing sensation. This is no coincidence as sansyo pepper is the ground leaves of the prickly-ash tree and szechwan peppercorns are the dried fruits of these trees. The small quantity used in this recipe reflects the strength of this spice, however you can omit this if you feel it’s not for you. Try tasting a little on your tongue.

This is a delicious cake come bread is excellent dipped in a fresh coffee for breakfast or just as a snack.
It is best made well in advance to let the flavours develop and strengthen, at least a few days covered in cling film or in an airtight container.


Preheat oven to 185°c (175°c fan)
Butter a medium loaf tin.

1. First off we need to make our own spice mix, so grab your pestle&mortar or in you have one a spice grinder but make sure it’s completely clean if you’ve been making curry powder otherwise you might end up with a funky SPICED bread.
In a pan lightly toast the clove, star anise & corriander to bring out the flavours.

Grind together all spices to a fine powder.

2. Put honey, vanilla sugar, water, spices, confit orange, lavender syrup and raisins in a pan and heat gently until sugar has dissolved.

3. Sift together the flour and baking powder

4.Add half the flour mixture to the warm syrup and mix thoroughly the combine the remaining together with the broken walnuts.

5. Transfer to prepared loaf tin and sprinkle almonds on the top

6. Bake for around 1 hour or untill a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin to preserve soft crust.

And here is the printable ingredients list

1 thought on “pain d’epices the ‘tomcosserat’ way

  1. Pingback: thai sweet potato and rainbow trout chowder « good food and mountain air

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