It’s a tough call on what would be my favorite holiday bread, cake, or dessert. Every country has its own beautiful traditional dessert which I so love exploring and baking.
This year I stumbled upon this recipe from Flo Braker who is I must say one of my favorites. She is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, THE SIMPLE ART OF PERFECT BAKING, totally amazed how she makes baking look totally seamless. Make this cake now, let it rest, and serve it for tea on New Year’s. It is also beautiful with a little jam, berries, or a little cream.
This recipe is from her book Baking for All Occasions.
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon anise seed (ground in a mortar)
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg room temperature
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (or lemon)
1 cup water
Preheat oven 350. Butter a 9’’ loaf pan, dust with flour then tap out any excess.
Sift flour, rye flour, baking soda, ground spices and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle in the anise seed.
Using an electric mixer, mix together the butter, egg, honey, and orange zest. Be patient as it takes a little time for ingredients to blend together and become creamy.
Add water, then slowly add dry ingredients, scraping sides to mix evenly.
Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes then tip the cake out of the loaf pan and let cool completely.
Store Pain d’épices wrapped in plastic for at least a week, during which time the flavors will meld and it’ll get denser. It can also be frozen for a few months.