Pain d’épices (literally “bread of spices”) is a simple 5-ingredient recipe that’s popular in France as an after-school snack for kids.  The funny thing about this recipe is that there are no spices in it!  In general, the French aren’t crazy about spices like we are here in the U.S.  Cinnamon, cloves, and ginger just don’t have much place in traditional French breads and desserts.  So, while it may look like our version of gingerbread, it’s not.  But it does have a deep, molasses-y flavor and a dense, chewy crumb that is highly addictive!

This mixes together so quickly! You might be surprised to see how light the batter looks at first. During baking, all that sugar caramelizes into the dark color below.

Pain d'épices recipe

Wyatt eating pain d'épice

Pain d’épices can also be sliced thinly and topped with meat or other savory spreads, served as an appetizer. My son Wyatt likes his spread with a little butter.

Pain d'epices (Spice bread)
Pain d'épices is a popular after-school snack for French children. It's called le quatre-heure (4:00 snack). Though the bread contains no spices, it has a deep color and flavor.
  • ⅔ cups milk (le lait)
  • ⅔ cups honey (le miel)
  • ⅔ cups sugar (le sucre)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour OR 2¼ cups whole wheat flour (la farine)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda (le bicarbonate de soude)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk on medium-low, stirring often, until tiny bubbles appear around the inside of the pan.
  3. Add the honey and sugar; stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the flour and baking soda. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour into a lightly greased 9x5" loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes (toothpick inserted comes out clean).