French Spice Cake (Pain d'épices)

A moist and spiced cake that smells and tastes like Christmas.

Belula December 08, 2019
Overhead shot of French spice cakes

December is here, which means that my Christmas decorations are already out of their boxes, our tree has been up for a week now, and my kitchen is full of dried nuts, raisins and a lot of spices. Baking holiday treats and offering them as gifts to my neighbors, the teachers at my son's nursery and some friends is a great idea.

90° shot of French spice cakes one on top of the other. Backlight used.

It feels like minus 2 degrees in Paris today, which is ideal weather for baking!! I'll be sharing sweet recipes all along December for some typical sweets we eat in France for Christmas as well as other delicious things from around the world I like to have around this time of year, and I thought you would appreciate too.

45° shot of the French spice cakes

Today I'm sharing a spice cake/bread they have in France during the holiday season, it's called 'Pain d’épices' and it's delicious. You can keep it for 3 to 4 days or you can prepare it in advance, freeze it as soon as they cold and the defrost whenever you want to eat it. You can also make the tiny version of this cake to offer as gifts along with other sweets as I have done.

45° shot of French spiced cakes one on top of the other with a spoon in the left bottom corner
Overhead shot of the French spice cakes
Closeup overhead shot of the French spice cakes

You can eat it all by itself, toasted with some vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate sauce, and you can also use as bread to serve with pates, cheese or foie gras during your holiday season aperitif hour 😊 Match made in heaven. Up to you. It's a very versatile pastry and you'll love having it around!

This cake has honey which enhances the spice flavors, also gives it a longer life on top of your counter and makes the pain d'épices very moist. Plus, it's a natural sweetener and it tastes great! Honey is always a good idea! It's sweetening power is higher than regular sugar so if you want to replace sugar in some other recipes with honey, I'd start out with half the amount and see how it works out and then go from there!

If you made this recipe I would really appreciate it if you leave a rating or comment below! Also, if you share on social media please use #cookwithbelula, I would love to see what you create!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Servings: 24 small cakes
Nutrition: 110 cal
Cuisine: French


  • Milk 150 g
  • Honey 300 g
  • Flour 300 g
  • Baking Powder 20 g
  • Eggs (about 4 large) 200 g
  • Sugar 60 g
  • Cinnamon 5 g
  • Nutmeg 1.5 g
  • Starred Anis 1.5 g
  • Vanilla Extract 5 g
  • Lemon Zest 2
  • Orange Zest 2


  • 1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Butter the molds evenly.
  • 2. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the spices and reserve.
  • 3. Over low heat warm the honey (about 50 degrees).
  • 4. Whisk the eggs and sugar until they have gained in volume and changed in color. Add the warm honey and whisk some more until it has gained in volume once again.
  • 5. Warm the milk over low heat.
  • 6. At low speed (the lowest on your machine) add the flour/baking powder/spice mix, the vanilla extract and the citrus zests. Once everything is properly mixed in, add the warm milk very slowly.
  • 7. Fill the molds up to ¾ and bake for about 20 minutes. Insert a skewer in the middle of the cake to verify it cooked. It should come out clean.
  • 8. Note: If you bake one big pain d'épices, the baking time will be longer. I'd say about 45 minutes depending on the size of your mold. Don't go far and check with a skewer once you see it has become golden in color.
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