This delicious recipe ginger bread cake comes from the famous Lenôtre boulangerie of Paris: Gâtines Spice Cake. Half cake, half confectionary, it keeps well and in fact, the older it gets, the better it tastes! You can keep it for up to two weeks, well wrapped in a tight container in a cool place
Makes 2 cakes, each serving 8
Active time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1½ hours
Cooling time: 1 hour
Resting time: Up to 3 days (optional, see Chef’s Notes)
Storage: Up to 12 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer
2 × 12-in. (30-cm) loaf pans
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater
1 stick + 2 tbsp (5¼ oz./150 g) butter, diced + more for the pans
1⅔ cups (400 ml) water
1 cup + 3 tbsp (14 oz./400 g) golden honey
1¼ cups (9 oz./250 g) sugar
1 cup (3½ oz./100 g) sliced almonds
3½ tbsp (50 ml) anise syrup or 1 tbsp anise seeds (see Chef’s Notes)
Generous 4¾ cups (1 lb. 3 oz./550 g) whole wheat flour or 5 cups (1 lb. 3 oz./550 g) rye flour
¼ cup (1½ oz./45 g) baking powder
Candied orange peel, cut into thin strips the same length as the width of the cakes
Finely grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas Mark 6). Lightly grease the loaf pans with butter and line them with enough parchment paper to leave an overhang.
Heat the water in a saucepan. Stir in the honey and sugar until dissolved. Add the butter and stir until it has melted.
Wash and dry the oranges and lemon. Remove the peel in quarters from one orange and cut it into small dice. Zest the other orange and the lemon, preferably using a Microplane grater, as the zest needs to be very fine. Place the diced peel and zest in a mixing bowl and add the almonds and anise syrup or seeds. Stir to combine.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of the stand mixer. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually incorporate the first mixture. Sprinkle in the citrus peel/almond/anise mixture and beat until combined.
Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 340°F (170°C/Gas Mark 3) and bake for an additional 1 hour, or until the tip of a knife pushed into the center of each cake comes out clean. If the cakes brown too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil.
Cool the cakes in the pans for at least 1 hour, before serving. If possible, let them rest overnight or up to 3 days, still in their pans (see Chef’s Notes). If wished, decorate the tops of the cakes with strips of candied orange peel and sprinkle over finely grated zest before serving.
There is no need to grind the anise seeds, as they will disintegrate as the cake bakes.
Although the spice cakes can be eaten 1 hour after being removed from the oven, they will be easier to slice and their flavors will have had time to develop if they are stored in their pans for 2–3 days.
How to make perfect croissants – every time, with Lenôtre