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Traditional Pain d'Epice (Honey Spice Cake) Recipe

Adapted from "Chocolate and Zucchini" by Clotilde Dusoulier (Broadway Press)

Note the grocery-store variety Pain D'Epice - this classic French tea bread, when made right, is moist and delicious. Make it a day ahead to give the spices a change to bloom.

Ingredients:

 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to grease the pan

 1-1/2 cups milk

2/3 cup good-quality honey (grease the measuring cup with a bit of vegetable oil before measuring; the honey will slip right out

1/3 cup mild-flavored dark molasses (using the same measuring cup trick)

 1 cup all-purpose flour

 1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

 1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons French four-spice mix (1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg and ground ginger)

optional: 1/4 cup finely diced candied orange peel

Directions:

 1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5 inch pan with oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Combine with milk, honey and molasses in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and heat the mixture without boiling, stirring with a spatula until dissolved. Set aside and let cool as you go on with the recipe.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a small bowl, combine orange peel, if using, with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture and set aside.

4. Form a well in the center of the four mixture. Pour in the mil mixture slowly and whisk in a circular motion, starting from the center, until all the flour has been incorporated -- the batter will be thin. Fold in the orange peel, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the surface is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Transfer to a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the last, and unmold. Let cool completely, wrap in foil, and let rest at room temperature until the next day.

Serves 10
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