Free Shipping on Orders Over $100*

The Perfect Holiday Bread Recipe

pain d'espices

Are you looking for a new recipe to impress your family this holiday season? Or perhaps you’re in need of a new gift idea for coworkers, teachers, and the alway busy this time of year mailman. This recipe for Pain d’Epices is the perfect choice! You can capture the warm and joyful spirit of this time of year, fill your home with the scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus, and delight everyone in your life.

The following is an excerpt from From the Wood-Fired Oven, by Richard Miscovich. It has been adapted for the web.

Pain d’Epices

This is an old-fashioned gingerbread-like quick bread— the name means “spice bread.” It’s a holiday favorite. I’ve sold it, given it away as gifts, and eaten it at Christmastime for years. The main leavener is baking soda, which creates carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with the acidic honey. Unlike baking powder, which makes carbon dioxide when it becomes wet and again when it meets the heat of the oven, baking soda creates carbon dioxide only once. Make sure your oven is ready to go once you start mixing this one. Unbaked batter that sits around will lose its carbon dioxide and become heavy.

Like other dense rye breads, this bread has an impressive shelf life. It will become a bit chewier after several days, but I find it delicious toasted and served warm with butter.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in Saveur magazine, issue 30.

Yield: 2 loaf pans, 1 Pullman pan, or numerous mini loaves
Prefermented flour: 0%

Wood-fired oven temperature window: 350°F (177°C) and falling
Home oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

pain d'espices


4 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup whole rye flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp anise seeds, ground
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, ground
1 1/8 cup milk
2 cups honey
1/4 cup fresh orange peel, grated on the small holes of a box grater (about 2–3 oranges)
1-2 lemons for fresh lemon peel, zested, grated on the small holes of a box grater
3 egg yolks, beaten
Whole raw almonds(blanched),  as needed


  • Sift together the rye flour, baking soda, and spices into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk the milk and honey together over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the orange and lemon peel and remove from the heat.
  • Before you add the yolks, you must first temper them so they don’t cook in the hot mixture. To do this, slowly drizzle a little of the hot mixture into the yolks while whisking. Now add the tempered yolks back into the liquids.
  • Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix gently just until smooth.
  • Divide evenly between two greased loaf pans.
  • Arrange the almonds in a decorative pattern on top of the unbaked batter.
  • Place the pans directly on the hearth in the 350°F (177°C) zone, and bake for 15 minutes. Then move the pans into a 325°F (163°C) zone in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The loaves may need to be tented with foil to prevent excessive darkening.
  • If you’re using a home oven, bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temp to 325°F and bake for approximately 25 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The loaves may need to be tented with foil to prevent excessive darkening.
  • Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then unmold them and cool them completely before slicing.

Recommended Reads

RECIPE: Basic Sourdough Starter

RECIPE: Northeastern Kvass

Share This:

Read The Book

From the Wood-Fired Oven

New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire


Recent Articles

A tray of bees

Biodynamic Beekeeping 101

Spring is here and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started on all of the projects I mapped out during the cold winter months – including trying my hand at incorporating bees into my homesteading adventure! As a new-bee (get it?!), I need help to get started so I did…

Read More
A cast iron skillet with a tomato and spinach frittata

Breakfast: Keto-Style and Kid-Approved

If you’ve been following a ketogenic diet for a while now you probably have a few hacks of your own when it comes to cooking up delicious low-carb breakfast options. If you’re new to the program, you’re probably wondering how many different ways you can cook an egg because that’s the only thing allowed. (You’re…

Read More
Two glasses of colored Kvass on a table

Kvass: A Nourishing, Fermented Beverage

Looking to add another recipe to your fermenting repertoire? Try your hand at kvass. This nourishing beverage calls for just a few simple ingredients and only takes a couple of days to ferment. Use beets or get creative with various fruit combinations like Blueberry Lemon Mint or Ginger Apple Lime. The following recipes are from The Heal…

Read More
A hand wearing a rubber medical glove holding a tray with pink bacteria inside

Bacteria: Our Ancestors and Coevolutionary Partners

Fermentation is the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce. People harness this transformative power in order to produce alcohol, to preserve food, and to make it more digestible, less toxic, and/or more delicious. It’s played an instrumental role in human cultural evolution and has become a cultural phenomenon of…

Read More
Patricia Daly

My Story: Cancer, Nutrition, and the Mind-Body Link

For decades, the ketogenic diet—which shifts the body’s metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat, lowering blood sugar and insulin and resulting in a metabolic state known as ketosis—has been used to successfully manage pediatric epilepsy. And now, emerging research suggests that a ketogenic diet, in conjunction with conventional treatments, offers new hope for those…

Read More