Make your holiday merry and délicieux with this festive twist of the French holiday favorite pain d'épices. This traditional honey spice bread (pain d'épices meaning "spiced bread" in French) was originally popularized in two cities in France, Dijon in Burgundy and Reims in Champagne, but now is a yuletide staple on tables across the country.
Gabriel Perronneau's honey spice cake is made in the style of Reims pain d'épices, which uses fermented rye flour as a base. The addition of the rye flour give the bread a delicate sour tang, which is balanced by plenty of honey and warming spices (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, a hint of star anise, black pepper and ginger). The addition of chopped dried figs give this holiday treat an extra special touch.
How to use
Pain d'épices with figs is baked in a shorter, wider rectangular loaf pan than Gabriel Perronneau's classic version of Pain d'épices, and comes sliced into 1/4-inch pieces for easy eating and entertaining.
In France, pain d'épices is traditional served alongside fois gras, but we love this honey spice cake with figs with charcuterie of all kinds. Serve with rich, silky duck or pork rillettes, topped with triple cream cheese and sliced smoked duck breast, chicken liver pâté or chopped liver. It is also the ideal mate for a variety of cheeses, from washed rind cheeses like Langres (also from the Champagne region) and Epoisses to blue cheeses like St. Agur and Fourme d'Ambert.
Pain d'épices with figs is also great for bread puddings (bonus, it's already sliced for easy layering!) with roasted fruit like apples or persimmons. Or, enjoy it simply toasted, slathered with sweet cream butter and finished with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.