The ‘Best Recipe’ of the Pain d’épices (Gingerbreads)

Bredan's best GingerbreadThere are many recipes for gingerbreads, but this one, in my view, is one of the finest. It is moist, light, and deliciously aromatic with its range of spices. It uses honey instead of golden syrup. Best stored for 24 hours after baking to allow the flavours to develop. Delectable and delicious!


  • 320g of honey – choose a strongly flavoured one e.g. heather, pine, wild flowers, etc.
  • 1 large egg
  • 110g unsalted butter – melted and cooled
  • 130g of whole milk
  • 270g of plain flour (or pastry flour which is starting to appear in the supermarkets)
  • 9g bicarbonate of soda
  • 6g ground cinnamon
  • 1g ground clove
  • 1g ground cardamom
  • 2g ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 800g dried apricots, quartered
  • 80g soft prunes, halved
  • 2 tbls of apricot jam, briefly boiled and strained for glazing top of loaf
  • 2 short cinnamon sticks & 2-3 star anise for decoration, plus two slices of candied orange slices (see separate recipe on this site to make your own candied peels) – optional. Or just leave the top plain after glazing.

Preheat oven to 165c. Grease and flour a loaf tin that measures 15cm x 10cm/9 ¾ “x 4”


Melt the butter and allow to cool.

Heat the honey gently to dissolve for 1 minute. Set aside

Put flour soda, and all the spices into a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly with a hand whisk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, put egg and pour in the fluid honey. With whisk attachment, whisk for 2 minutes to become mousse-like. Now add the milk, and the cooled, melted butter.

Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment, and start adding the dry mixture in 5-6 additions. Mix thoroughly. NB: if you haven’t a stand mixer, use an electric hand mixer, or just use a large whisk for all stages.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth out the top. Shaking the tin backwards and forwards will help to settle top, or use a small palette knife.

Bake for 50-60 minutes on centre shelf. Check for doneness with a skewer, or thin knife, at around the 50 minute stage.

When ready, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Unmould onto a cooling rack.

While waiting for 5 minutes, then make the glaze. Put jam into a small saucepan with 1 tbls of water and bring to the boil. Strain through a sieve to remove fruit pieces. Brush hot glaze over the top of the loaf. Apply decoration items if using. The jam will reset when the cake is cold.

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