Pain d’ epices (French spice bread) tastes like it is centuries away from the present. I don’t hesitate to say that pain d’epices would be right at home in a Game of Thrones scene. It has a deep, warm taste of honey and rich spices and not the mix of spices that you’d typically find in other such quick breads. There is no yeast or kneading involved, just a bit of baking soda/powder and mixing. Pain d’epices is somewhere between bread and cake, it contains no butter or oil but a considerable amount of honey to add sweetness and moisture. As such make sure you use a good quality honey, preferably something dark like a chestnut honey. Unsurprisingly the honey can change the flavor dramatically so it is worth experimenting with different varieties. I’ve heard that beekeepers in France have pain d’epice for sale right next to jars of honey.
To best enjoy, slather thick or thin slices heavily in salted butter for breakfast or a snack. Serve toasted slices cut into fingers to serve with cocktails, or thin toasted slices to serve with paté. The toasting caramalizes the honey and creates a crispy chewy exterior. Best of all this bread improves with age, store it in an air tight container for up to a week or so.
I’ve tried a few recipes now from different sources and am still tweaking the official Food for Architect’s recipe, looking for the perfect texture and mix of spices. I’ll revise this post and add the recipe when it is done. The most recent recipe that I’ve tried (with a few modifications**) is from David Lebovitz’s new book as posted on the Lottie + Doof blog click herefor the recipe. As always David’s recipes turn out wonderfully, give it a try!
**I swapped the whole wheat flour for rye, and added 1/4 cup of chopped candied peel.