Pain D'epices – Dijon spiced bread or Gingerbread

Whilst Dijon may be famous for its mustard, another popular food item from this town is the Pain d’épices or spiced bread or gingerbread.  It was introduced from Flanders during  the times of the Dukes of Burgundy and with Dijon being on the spice route, it quickly became an institution. A recipe for the spiced bread includes:
Pain d'epices or Gingerbread
225g wholemeal rye flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
30 g white sugar
225ml of honey
30 g ground almonds
1 teaspoon ginger peel
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 clove, ground
1/2 orange, grated zest
1/2 lemon, grated zest
sugar, boiled to a syrup for glaze

– Warm and melt the honey by standing the honey jar in a pan of hot water.
– Measure the honey into the rye flour in a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon. Leave, covered for 1 hour for the flour to absorb all the liquid.
– Heat the oven to 180C or 350F gas
– Add the rest of the ingredients, except the glaze, and mix rigourously to ensure everything is spread evenly through the dough – this will be very sticky!
– Knead the dough on a clean work surface for between 5-10 minutes. You can dip your hands into a bowl of water at intervals to help with the kneading if necessary.
– Press the dough mixture into a well greased 2lb loaf tin, making sure it’s pushed right into the corners.
– Bake the loaf on the middle shelf for about 35 mins.  Test for readiness by inserting a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean
– After removing from the oven, brush the bread with glaze and return to oven for a couple of minutes to set the glaze.
– Let the bread stand in the tin for a few minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.

The bread keeps very well and because it’s made using rye it can be better for being left a couple of days before eating, that is if you can avoid the temptation of hoeing into it.  I hope yours turn out as nice looking as the one in the picture.  Bon appetit!


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