Burgundy Recipes – Pain d’Epices (Burgundian Spice Bread)

Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy married Marguerite of Flanders in 1369. Her favourite cake was a honey cake however it was not until the 18th century when the cake became popular in Dijon, this is when Dijon became capital of the honey cake. The Burgundian Dukes controlled the oriental spice trade and so they developed a taste for nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, anise and ginger and hence Spice Bread.

Mulot au Petitjean is an old fashioned shop in Dijon that specialises in Spice bread. The Mulot family have been producing this bread on the same site since 1838 and is the only spice bread producer left.


  • 1 ½ cups / 300ml milk
  • 1 cup / 200 g dark drown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups / 500g runny honey
  • 4 cups / 500g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 g finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground aniseed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • (2 medium loaf pans – 20x8x8 cm)


  1. Heat the milk, sugar and honey in a saucepan, stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring it just to the boil, and then set aside until tepid.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add three quarters of the cooled honey mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually drawing in the flour to make a smooth batter.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the candied peel, spices and salt. Stir in the remaining honey mixture and add it to the batter, stir until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the batter for 8-12 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 250F / 120C. Butter the loaf pans, you can also line them with grease-proof paper and butter the paper.
  5. To complete the batter, mix the egg yolks and baking soda with the water in a small bowl. Stir this mixture into the batter.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them half full – the batter rises quite a bit during baking – a cover them loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue baking for approx 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours more, or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes out clean.
  7. Note that the spice bread should be slightly under baked so it is soft in the middle and has not started to shrink from the sides of the pan. Let the breads cool and then turn them out.

Recipe courtesy of Anne Willian