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Pain d'epices (French Gingerbread Loaf)

French pain d'epices on a wire rack lined with parchment.
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Pain d'epices is a French gingerbread loaf, a no-knead spiced bread full of holiday spices and festive flavors. It is a French classic, perfect for Christmas, and makes a great edible gift. 



For the syrup:

  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (280 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (190 g) honey
  • 1/3 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (110 g) granulated sugar
  • 0.5 oz (15 g) whole star anise  (see note #1)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice 

For the loaf:

  • 2 2/3 cup + 2 1/2 teaspoons (340 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) cornstarch
  • 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

*Don't you have the correct baking pan on hand right now? Try this simple Cake Pan Converter!

** If needed, please refer to Baking Conversion Charts.


  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°F (160°C). To make the dough, mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.  


  1. 0.5 oz. (15 g) of star anise is approximately equal to 18 whole star anise or 9 teaspoons of ground star anise.
  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. Make-ahead option: Make the syrup one day ahead and infuse it with warm spices and exquisite flavors. The next day, make the bread dough and bake.
  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.





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