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Pain d'épices

Pain d'épice

PT45M

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For me, as for most French people, this brings back memories of childhood – coming home from school and tucking into a slice with a glass of milk. It is a really simple recipe, and is quick and easy to make by hand. The addition of rye flour is traditional and it gives the crumb both a richness of flavour and a little acidity. Because the loaf contains a lot of honey, try to find a good one, preferably a single varietal, which will have much more of a distinctive flavour. I found a brilliant fir-tree honey that had a unique ‘green’ pine flavour, but orange blossom or heather would also be good. There is no need to rest the pain d’épices dough. Once baked, keep the loaf wrapped in greaseproof paper to prevent it from drying out.

Ingredients

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  • 350g of honey, use a very good quality variety
  • 40g of soft dark brown sugar
  • 125g of plain flour
  • 125g of rye flour
  • 1 tbsp of mixed spice, typically ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves
  • 1 tsp star anise
  • 20g of baking powder
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g of whole milk
  • 20g of butter, for greasing the tin
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Method

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1
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
2
Gently heat the honey in a pan with the sugar, stirring until the sugar melts, then remove from the heat
3
Combine the plain flour, rye flour, mixed spice, star anise and baking powder in a bowl
4
In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and milk, and then stir in the honey and sugar mixture. Stir this into the dry ingredients to form a batter
5
Melt the butter in a small pan and use to brush the inside of a 25cm long tin
6
Fill the tin with the batter, transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes until the top is dark brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
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