Pain d’Epices
One 9-inch (23cm) loaf
Adapted from Baking for All Occasions by Flo BrakerPain d’épices makes the most wonderful afternoon snack when you’re foraging around for something slightly sweet, as I often find myself doing, but don’t want something rich or creamy. That said, you could dress it up with a swipe of cream cheese or jam, or use slices of pain d’épices to make an impromptu strawberry shortcake, piling on the berries and cream between a few moist slices.
3 1/2 cups (455g) flour
1/2 cup (60g) 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 seeds, whole
2 ounces (55g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup (340g) honey
1 tablespoon finely-grated orange zest
1 cup (240ml) water
1. Preheat the oven to 350º (180ºC). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan, dust it with flour, then tap out any excess.
2. Sift together the flour, rye flour, baking soda, the ground spices and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle in the anise seeds.
3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, mix together the butter, egg, honey (or honey and jam), and orange zest.
4. Add the water, then add the dry ingredients in three additions, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure everything gets mixed in evenly.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top will bake to a somewhat dark color, which is normal.
6. Cool 10 minutes, then tip the cake out of the loaf pan. Let cool completely before slicing.

Storage: Pain d’épices can be wrapped in plastic and stored 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.