Burgundian Honey Spice Bread

This Burgundian honey spice bread or pain d’épices is, as the name implies, made with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, fennel seed, candied ginger, and honey. Perfect for gifting as well as holiday entertaining and an ideal substitute for gingerbread.

A loaf of Burgundian honey spice bread on a sheet of parchment with two slices cut off.

This Burgundian honey spice bread is sorta a cheater’s version of the traditional pain d’épices (pronounced “pan DAY piece”) found in France since the Middle Ages. There’s a reason things become a classic and this honeyed, nuanced bread is a perfect example of something that needs no refinement…except perhaps the subtle shortcuts that make it even less labor-intensive than the original.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Burgundian Honey Spice Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 2 loaves
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°). Brush two 9-by-5-by-3-inch (23-by-13-by-8-cm) loaf pans with some of the butter. Cut 4 strips of parchment paper so that you have 2 strips that are 15-by-5 inches (38-by-13 cm) and 2 strips that are 14-by-8 inches (36-by-20 cm). Place the 2 long pieces of parchment along the length of the buttered pan and press to adhere. Brush the parchment with butter. Lay the two wider pieces crosswise on top. Brush the parchment with the remaining butter. Everything must be very well buttered or the bread will stick.

Heat the milk, brown sugar, and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, ground fennel, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt. In 2 batches, add the honey mixture and candied ginger. Scrape down the sides as needed and blend on low speed until just combined.

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the egg, egg yolk, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the batter and beat until well blended.

To bake the loaves, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans, dividing it evenly and not filling the pans more than halfway. Bake, rotating once, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the bread starts to become too dark.

Remove the loaves to a rack to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Turn them out of the pans and immediately remove the parchment paper. Store very tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 week. Originally published December 23, 2009.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This Burgundian Honey Spice Bread is, to say the very least, a FABULOUS and festive brown bread that will make every day a holiday. The bread is very cake-like and is delicious with or without butter or even buttercream. The bread comes together very easily. For an occasion, you could easily double the recipe and have 4 wonderful loaves.

Candied or crystallized ginger can be difficult to find (and sometimes overpriced); I found mine at Trader Joe's for $1.49 for an 8-ounce bag. I like to double the candied ginger to give it a nice kick.

Make this bread, you won't be disappointed!

This Burgundian honey spice bread had a lovely, subtle taste and texture and more structure than a typical quick bread. I think you could increase the spices a bit, especially the fennel (if you like it) and both the dried and candied ginger. This bread makes a nice afternoon snack slathered with butter or mascarpone, or would be great for breakfast, too. Over time, the wonderful honey flavor becomes more pronounced.

A note about the loaf pan: I baked two loaves, one in a light-colored aluminum pan and one in a dark grey pan.The darker pan caused the outer crust to burn a bit (due to the high sugar content) and tasted a bit bitter compared with the loaf in the lighter colored pan.

It took the whole 50 minutes to bake through. I tested the loaves at 45 minutes and it was still a bit tacky in the center, but the additional 5 or so minutes made it perfect. Total time 2 hours.


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  1. I made this today and it was fantastic. A keeper. Couldn’t stop eating it!! Also, the house smelled WONDERFUL all day from the baking spices. I seldom comment, but this one is worth it.

  2. I was looking for a spice bread that used ginger to help quell a craving. This one caught my eye because I do historical reenactment, specifically Renaissance France. Left out the fennel and candied ginger because I didn’t have it on hand. Used a cup of whole-wheat flour to make it a bit heartier and baked in two 9-by-4-inch bread pans. This smelled wonderful as a batter, spectacular while baking, and I am now tempted to hide the loaves so I don’t have to share them. It has a rich, dark color from the honey and brown sugar and the spices are just lovely. A five-star recipe that I’ll be making again! Thank you so much for putting this up.

  3. I’ve made this twice to rave reviews. Reminds me of something you would find on a medieval table. It will probably keep well, but I’ll never know since both loaves were consumed in three days. I grind whole spices in a small coffee grinder kept just for that purpose and it only takes a minute or two for the fennel. The second time I made it I used a 300 degree oven and baked for about an hour which eliminated a too brown crust. I also use a non-stick aluminum foil molded in the pans prior to filling them and don’t both greasing the pans at all.

  4. David,

    I appreciate the e-mails that steer me to so many fantastic recipes on your website.


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