How to make French Spice Cake

Hello, lovely people of the culinary world! Julia here, your friendly neighborhood food enthusiast and the face behind Dinner with Julia. Today, I want to share with you an experience close to my heart – my adventure with the enchanting French Spice Cake.

The French Spice Cake, or Pain d’épices as they fondly call it in France, is more than just a cake. It’s a melody of flavors that dance in your mouth, leaving a trail of delicious warmth and comfort. Every bite carries the rich history and culinary prowess of the French kitchens, making it a truly special delicacy.

It was on one of those chilly autumn days when I first decided to try my hand at this traditional French recipe. The warm aroma of mixed spices wafting through my home was nothing short of magical.

French Spice Cake Recipe

Pain D'épices (French Honey Orange Spice Cake) - Belula
Julia savoring the aroma of freshly baked French Spice Cake.

French Spice Cake

I would be interested to know how the cake improves, if, as per Julia's suggestion, a person kept it wrapped up tightly for a few weeks before serving, instead of doing what I did - sliced into it as soon as it was cool. If one of you dear readers attempt the recipe, please let me know how you like the cake after you've kept it a month or so.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 680 kcal


  • 1 oven
  • 1 mixing bowl


  • cups honey
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour {unbleached all-purpose will work fine too}
  • ½ cup almond flour *
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup dark rum such as Myers’s
  • ½ teaspoon EACH ground cinnamon cloves, ginger and nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper {optional}
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon peel
  • ½ cup moist apricots chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan or a 10-inch loaf pan {8 cup capacity}.
  • Beat the honey, sugar and water in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle attachment. When the sugar is dissolved, beat in the baking soda and salt. Add half the flour and beat about a minute.
  • Gradually add the remaining flour and continue to beat another 2 minutes on medium speed - the batter will be stiff and sticky.
  • Stop the mixer and add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix on slow speed to incorporate everything.Scrape the batter into the pan; smooth the top with a damp finger or spatula.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 1 hour – while it bakes, the cake will rise beautifully to fill the pan.
  • The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted in center emerges clean.
  • Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes. If using a springform, release the pan sides; otherwise unmold the cake and place on a rack, top-side up. Cool for about 2 hours or until completely cool, then wrap well in plastic.



My cake didn’t last a week on the counter, but it tasted delicious with a blob of lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream on top.
Keyword almond flour, cinnamon, honey

Cooking Tips

Pain D'épices (French Honey Orange Spice Cake) - Belula
Close-up shot of the golden-brown crust of the cake

Baking a French Spice Cake is no small feat, but with a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be mastering it in no time.

  • Spice Selection: The beauty of this cake lies in its unique blend of spices. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different combinations until you find the perfect balance.
  • Quality of Ingredients: Always opt for high-quality honey and flour. They significantly influence the cake’s texture and flavor.
  • Baking Time: Keep a close eye on your cake while it’s in the Best Toaster Oven For Polymer Clay. Overbaking could turn your moist, fluffy cake into a dry one.

Serving Suggestions

Easy French Spice Cake - Pain d'epices [5 Min Prep!] - YouTube
The cake beautifully garnished with fresh berries.
A French Spice Cake can be served in numerous ways, each variant bringing out a unique facet of its flavor profile.

  • With Tea or Coffee: The spicy undertones of the cake pair excellently with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
  • With Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side will perfectly balance the warmth of the spices.
  • With Fresh Fruits: Garnish slices of cake with fresh fruits like berries or peaches for a burst of freshness and tang.


Rye and Buckwheat Honey French Spice Bread - Pardon Your French
Julia with her baking tools, ready for the challenge.
  • Can I make this cake ahead of time? Absolutely. In fact, the flavors of the French Spice Cake intensify over time. Just make sure to store it properly.
  • What can I use instead of honey? You can substitute honey with molasses or maple syrup. However, keep in mind that it will slightly alter the taste.
  • Is this cake gluten-free? The traditional recipe isn’t, but you can replace regular flour with gluten-free alternatives.
  • Can I freeze the cake? Yes! Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and it can be frozen for up to three months.
  • How do I know if my cake is baked properly? You can use the toothpick test. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready!

So there you have it, my dear foodies – my exciting journey with the French Spice Cake. As I wrap up this post, I can’t help but be filled with the same excitement and anticipation I felt when I first embarked on this culinary adventure. I hope you too find joy and warmth in this delightful French delicacy. Bon appétit!

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