This holiday season, treat yourself to a slice of French gingerbread. An easy recipe that will make your kitchen smell wonderful!

Whenever I visit the small town of Buxy in France’s Côte Chalonnaise, you will likely find me at the tiny market held in the centre ville held on Thursday mornings. Though there aren’t many stalls, everything on offer is absolutely delicious. In the winter, they sometimes sell fresh choucroute garnie. And what an aroma it spreads through the cold air!
I especially look forward to stopping by the stand selling honey and French gingerbread, or pain d’épices. The dense, fragrant loaves come in different flavors such as blueberry or chocolate chip. But I prefer mine with a touch of candied orange, and a good pat of butter. This is my recipe for a beautifully spiced pain d’épices. Eat it for breakfast with a bowl of black coffee or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

Note: You can substitute the candied orange for diced dried apricots. Though the gingerbread is traditionally made with rye flour, I have used spelt as I find it produces a lighter crumb.

Makes 1 loaf


  • 250g spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground aniseed
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 70g candied orange peel, diced
  • 120ml honey
  • 80ml water
  • 2 eggs


Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 28cm rectangular baking pan with parchment paper. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and brown sugar into a large bowl. Stir well using a whisk. Stir in the candied orange with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Whisk the honey, water and eggs in a small bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients and fold until you have a smooth batter. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. It should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack before serving.