Pain D'épices Chaud - Warm Gingerbread Cake

Pain D'épices Chaud - Warm Gingerbread Cake

Excerpted from Duchess at Home

If you’re ever driving the cider route in Normandy, there’s a charming little restaurant in Cambremer called Au P’tit Normand that is a nice place to stop for lunch. Their warm pain d’épices (gingerbread) in calvados caramel sauce is the perfect comfort dessert. When I asked the owner about it, she replied, ‘Oh, I just threw it together. It’s just a standard pain d’épices—nothing special.’ Well, for me, it was pretty special, and this is my homage to it.

Yield: 12 Servings



  • 340 g (2⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground star anise
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 220 g (1¼ cups firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 200 g (2/3 cup) fancy molasses
  • 140 g (1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp) liquid honey
  • 210 g (1 cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 335 g (1⅓ cups) boiling water
  • zest of 1 lemon


  • 115 g (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 150 g (¾ cup firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 120 g (½ cup) whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 Tbsp calvados (optional)
  • vanilla ice cream, to serve


To Make the Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray the baking dish with vegetable oil and line it with parchment paper. Put a kettle on to boil.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and set aside.
  3. Place the brown sugar, molasses, and honey in a stand mixer bowl. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the oil. Once incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 1 minute.
  5. Add the eggs and mix until smooth and well incorporated.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the dry ingredients and the boiling water, alternating three parts dry with two parts water and beginning and ending with the dry. Scrape down the bowl between each addition. Add the lemon zest and mix until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

To Make the Sauce

  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cook until dissolved. Slowly pour in the whipping cream and continue to cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and calvados if using.

  To serve the pain d’épices, cut out pieces while still warm and top generously with warm sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


  • Equipment - You will need a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  • Storage & Serving - This gingerbread will keep at room temperature for up to five days. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat both before serving.

Excerpted from Duchess at Home by Giselle Courteau.
Text copyright © 2019 Giselle Courteau. Design and Photography © 2019 Sarah Hervieux. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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