In the world of spices, each one has its unique charm and allure. From the fiery heat of chili powder to the warmth of cinnamon, the choices are as diverse as the cuisines they enhance. But if I were to choose a favorite, it would undoubtedly be the enchanting ‘French Spice’ known as Pain D’Épice, or gingerbread spice. Let me take you on a flavorful journey to discover why Pain D’Épice holds a special place in my culinary heart.
The Allure of Pain D’Épice
Pain D’Épice, which translates to “spice bread” in French, is a fragrant blend of spices that evokes a sense of warmth and comfort. It’s a spice mix that’s deeply rooted in French culinary tradition and is a key ingredient in the beloved French gingerbread.
Pain D’Épice typically comprises a harmonious combination of ground spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and sometimes cardamom and anise. These spices come together to create a symphony of flavors that are simultaneously sweet, spicy, and slightly earthy.
One of the most captivating aspects of Pain D’Épice is its intoxicating aroma. The scent of freshly baked gingerbread, enriched with this spice blend, fills the air with a cozy, inviting ambiance. It’s a fragrance that immediately transports you to a rustic French kitchen or a charming patisserie.
Versatility in Baking
What makes Pain D’Épice truly special is its versatility in baking. It’s not limited to gingerbread alone; this spice blend can be used in a wide range of sweet treats, from cookies and cakes to muffins and tarts.
Pain D’Épice lends gingerbread cookies their distinct flavor and aroma. The spices complement the sweetness of the dough, creating a cookie that’s both comforting and indulgent.
Cakes and Pastries
In cakes and pastries, Pain D’Épice adds depth and complexity to the flavors. Whether it’s a simple loaf cake or an intricate French pastry, this spice blend elevates the dessert to a whole new level.
Sprinkle Pain D’Épice into your morning muffin batter or pancake mix, and you’ll discover how it transforms your breakfast into a comforting and aromatic experience.
The French Connection
Pain D’Épice has a strong connection to French culture and tradition. It’s a spice blend that’s been enjoyed in France for centuries, often served during the festive season and cherished as a symbol of togetherness and celebration.
A Slice of History
The history of Pain D’Épice dates back to medieval times when it was considered a luxury spice blend. Over the centuries, it became a beloved part of French cuisine, featured in both sweet and savory dishes.
During the holiday season, Pain D’Épice is at the heart of French celebrations. It’s used to create traditional gingerbread houses, spiced cakes, and even enjoyed in hot beverages like mulled wine.
My Personal Affection
As a passionate home cook and baker, Pain D’Épice holds a special place in my heart because of its ability to transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary delights. Whether I’m crafting gingerbread cookies for a holiday gathering or infusing a simple cake with its aroma, this spice blend adds a touch of enchantment to my kitchen.
In the vast world of spices, Pain D’Épice, or ‘French Spice,’ stands out as a fragrant and versatile blend that embodies the warmth and comfort of French culinary tradition. Its rich history, intoxicating aroma, and ability to enhance a wide range of sweet treats make it a favorite of many, including myself.
So, the next time you embark on a baking adventure or simply wish to add a touch of magic to your dishes, consider reaching for Pain D’Épice. Its sweet, spicy, and slightly earthy flavors will transport your taste buds to the charming streets of France and infuse your creations with a sense of warmth and nostalgia.
Maple Syrup Pain D’Epice
Although I have used maple syrup and ginger syrup here, you could as easily swap honey for the maple and treacle for the ginger. It’s all a matter of taste and what you have in the house.
375ml milk (I used skimmed but any sort is ok)
200g maple syrup
95g ginger syrup (I use the stuff from the jars of stem ginger)
120g plain flour
120g wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
40 g diced candied peel (optional)
- Oven temperature 180 degreesC/170 degrees fan
You need a 10 x 20cm loaf tin lined with baking parchment
- Combine the milk, maple syrup and ginger syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir until the syrups and milk are combined.
- Sieve the flours into a large bowl with the baking powder, sodium bicarbonate, salt and spices (add the spelt residue at the end when all sieved). If using the peel, combine it with a tablespoon of the flour to coat it. (In theory this stops it sinking, but…)
- Form a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the milk mixture slowly using a balloon whisk, as if you were making Yorkshire pudding batter. It will look like that when all the liquid is added.
- Fold in the peel if using and pour the batter into the loaf tin.
- Bake for 50 minutes (check after 40) until the surface is brown, and firm and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- I cool it in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out in the paper onto a wire rack. When cold it can be wrapped up. Best the day after, but easily keeps for 1 week.