Intense, dark, and a little dangerous – I love pain d’épices, a French honey spice cake that can be seamlessly paired with savory or sweet flavors.
It’s also a modern holiday favorite, often served with foie gras, salted butter, jam, or just on its own – a thick slice with a strong cup of tea.
The spice cake keeps well and actually tastes even better after a few days. But if you want to make it even more festive (all of that powdered sugar, notwithstanding), and completely nontraditional, this would also be delightful soaked through with something boozy and fresh.
I’m testing a handful of holiday dessert recipes so, hold on, there is a lot of temptation coming up.
(adapted from David Lebovitz)
- 3/4 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- pinch of salt
- 1 2/3 cups AP flour
- 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2 t allspice
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t ground cloves
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a bundt pan (or a regular cake or bread tin – that I would also line with parchment paper).
2. On the stove, heat honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan just until boiling. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and briskly stir in 1 cup of flour, set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining flours, baking powder, baking soda, and all the spices. Add spices aggressively for this cake!
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the two eggs and set aside.
Once the honey mixture has cooled, mix it in gradually into the flour mixture, add the eggs, and stir together with a wooden spoon or a spatula just until smooth.
Decorate top with powdered sugar – sifted through a stencil here, for example – for extra festive cheer.