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Pain d'epices (French Gingerbread Loaf)

A slice of French gingerbread cut as a holiday tree

5 from 40 reviews

This delicious French gingerbread cake known as pain d'epices is perfect for making all year round. The gingerbread baked as little loaves full of holiday spices and festive flavors makes a great edible gift during holidays. 



For the syrup:

For the loaf:

  • 2 2/3 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons (340 g) flour
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) corn starch
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (40 ml) dark rum
  • 4 teaspoons (20 g) baking powder
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) dried apricots
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) prunes
  • 2.6 oz (75 g) slivered almonds
  • 1.5 oz (45 g) dried cranberries

For the decoration (optional):

  • 3.5 oz (100 g) speculoos cookies
  • 1.7 oz (50 g) apricot jam
  • prunes
  • dried apricots
  • Medjool dates
  • raisins

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  1. To make the syrup, pour water, honey, and sugar, add cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ground allspice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while mixing. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover it with a plastic film, and let it infuse at room temperature for 24 hours.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 320 degrees F/160 degrees C. To make the dough, mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a bowl. Drain the syrup with a colander and discard the spices. Add rum to the syrup and mix. Stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture and combine it with a hand whisk. Add whole prunes, dried apricots, cranberries, and slivered almonds to the mix and combine. Pour the preparation into a buttered nonstick loaf pan or a silicone loaf pan, filling up three-quarters.
  3. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check the loaf readiness with a toothpick: gingerbread is ready if it comes out dry. Remove the loaf from the bread pan and let it cool on a cooling rack.
  4. To decorate the loaf, place speculoos cookies in a food processor and crush them to get crumbs. Heat apricot jam in a microwave and spread it over gingerbread using a silicone brush. Generously sprinkle the loaf's sides with crumbled speculoos cookies.
  5. Dip each dried fruit in a heated apricot jam, shake off the excess jam, arrange prunes, dried apricots, Medjool dates, and raisins on top, overlapping each other. Fill the gaps between the fruit with crumbled cookies.  


  1. 0.5 oz (15 g) of star anise is approximately equal to 18 whole star anise or 9 teaspoons of ground star anize.
  2. Replace slivered almonds with blanched almonds.
  3. Experiment with dried fruit and make your combinations.
  4. For a gourmet version, switch honey for date syrup or maple syrup
  5. Adjust the baking time and test the loaf/loaves for readiness with a toothpick if you use small loaf pans.
  6. Arrange whole star anise and cinnamon sticks on top of the loaf for additional decoration.
  7. Store the cooled gingerbread loaf in a plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 to 3 days. You can refrigerate it for up to a couple of weeks. Then, decorate it (if desired) on the day of serving.
  8. You can freeze your loaf covered with plastic wrap or in a freezer bag for a long time, up to 2 months. To thaw, leave the loaf in the fridge overnight.


Keywords: French gingerbread, French gingerbread recipe, gingerbread loaf, gingerbread loaf recipe, pain d'epices




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