pain d’epice à la Bourguignonne

Supposedly, it’s still winter. It doesn’t feel like it. I’m still eating like it. One of my favorite things about winter are the spices that warm our homes & bellies. When I found this recipe, a spice bread recipe inspired by the Dukes of Burgundy in my favorite cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all.

The author, Virginia Willis, explains that the recipe comes from the time when the Dukes of Burgundy controlled the spice trade during the Middle Ages. The blend of spices is truly unique–fennel & honey changing the spice to a mild, earthy sweetness. I’ve adapted it to increase nutrition value & decrease sugar content without changing the texture. I also use fennel seeds rather than ground fennel, to change the texture a bit.

While munching the this midwinter snack, I’ve been watching a tiny strawberry plant burst to life & flipping through a few organic gardening books before investing in plants for our first full-sized gardening adventure. It feels great to already have something springing to life while the weather outside flips back & forth between winter & spring like teenage boy watching three different basketball games.

I hope you have something equally pleasant welcoming spring in your home, & I hope you enjoy this French-inspired spice bread.

All these spices make the recipe great for digestive health, & the whole grains provide energy while preventing you from being able to eat a whole loaf yourself. I promise, a small square will calm any midafternoon hunger & leave you in a warmer, calmer state of mind.


  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • heaping 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (or a mix of ground + whole if you want more crunch, but ground has a higher nutrition factor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a square brownie pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients except baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine honey, sugar & milk in a small sauce pan. Heat on low until sugar desolves & the ingredients are homogenous. Cool slightly.
  4. In two batches, at the milk mixture to the flour mixture & stir until combine. Work in one direction, folding the batter over itself to eliminate lumps without over-stirring, which leaves batter heavy & sad.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the egg & baking soda. Add to batter & stir until well incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared brownie pan. Place in warm oven & bake for 40 minutes or until the middle bounces back when touched gently. (Another test would be to poke the middle with a knife. If it comes out clean, the bread is cooked.)
  7. Serve plain or with more honey, butter, nutella or lemon curd. Share. But not too much…

About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in being French and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to pain d’epice à la Bourguignonne

  1. thebakeandbrew says:

    Ooh your picture of the strawberry plant is so lovely!

    And isn’t it quirky (and a little adorable) how obsessed the French are with digestive health? I’ve never seen a country so enamored with yogurt & granola.

  2. Pingback: le pain d’épice de st-nicolas | francofile

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