Make Ahead

Alsatian Gingerbread

December  9, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Makes 1 small loaf
Author Notes

Adapted from Jacquy Pfeiffer’s The Art of French Pastry. Makes a single low-slung, honeyed loaf. Feel free to add spices or boost the quantities given; I have here (and also added a touch of salt). And if you want a sugar glaze, paint it on once the loaf comes out of the oven. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons candied orange or lemon peel, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the brown sugar and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm.
  2. Sift together the flours, spices, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the milk-egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stop and scrape up any flour that’s stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Add the warm honey and brown sugar and then the diced citrus peel and mix on medium speed until well-combined.
  4. Lightly butter and flour a medium loaf pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the loaf is deep brown.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Starmade
  • Shelley Matheis
    Shelley Matheis
  • Harriet Lobegeiger
    Harriet Lobegeiger
  • aussiefoodie
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

27 Reviews

Carlynn H. December 13, 2020
I have made this with and without the lemon peel. I think it's better without. But that might be just a preference.
Taylor S. January 3, 2018
Delicious and authentic! Ground up anise in a mortar and pestle and baked this is a smaller loaf pan with chopped candied ginger on the bottom.
jena December 16, 2016
Made this with some small alterations: spelt flour subbed for wheat, increased in spice mix, recipe doubled. I found even with the doubled recipe the bake time was a bit long and it needed to come out sooner and even with my increase in spices it could have used another tsp. Otherwise it had a very hearty taste; it would be interesting with sourdough instead of the baking powder. I had relatively small diced bits of candied lemon & orange and found them too be too chewy in the final product and would have preferred them minced.
cpc February 12, 2016
It isn't really a "small loaf" but more like a flat, very dense cake. It's nice and spicy and has great flavour and comes together quickly. I can't help wondering what would happen if I double the ingredients and bake it in a normal loaf pan. Would it end up a little lighter or would I just have a larger block of gingerbread.
Kitspy December 24, 2015
Made this last night and was happy about how fast it was to pull together! I couldn't find anise anywhere (where did it all go??) so I omitted it. Nor did I have any candied peel, so I took a tip from Starmade and grated some zest into the honey, which was wonderful. I also split the batter into two tiny loaf pans to give one as a gift. I plan to make another for my family tonight, hopefully with the anise and some sort of dried fruit if not the candied peel. I'm sure my dad (of Alsatian heritage) will love it. Thanks so much for this recipe. It will definitely become a tradition.
JaniceB December 16, 2015
This is a pain d'epices, no? I haven't tried this one yet, since I've been making this one on David Lebovitz's site for years.
Starmade December 19, 2014
I made this yesterday and wanted to add a comment before I got over my enthusiasm; I didn't have candied peel but I saw how the orange flavour would help so I grated zest from an orange into the honey, where it sort of candied itself before I took it off the burner. I wanted a fruit in the bread so I chopped in a few dates and I also added cardamom since I didn't have anise. It was superb and had that *old* flavor some have mentioned. Never I have I seen rye flour put to a better use. I went looking for the tradition behind the recipe, and found an intriguingly pure version that using all rye flour and no egg In the search I also turned up another version on this site by thirschfeld which chops prunes into it, and adds butter (which also looks good but it did not seem to me to need any fat):
Anyway I think this version shall become my main reference.
Shelley M. November 13, 2014
I have whole wheat pastry flour; would it be better to use that?

And Harriet. I think maple syrup would be lovely.
Shelley M. November 13, 2014
I have whole wheat pastry flour; would it be better to use that?
And Harriet, I think maple syrup would be lovely.
Harriet L. November 12, 2014
Looks delicious, however I'm allergic to honey - do you think that maple syrup (or any other suggestions!) would work as a substitute? Thanks.
aussiefoodie March 29, 2014
Great loaf cake that is not too sweet, and has a nice tang of ginger and spices. I was out of brown sugar, so used superfine sugar but substituted 1 tbsp of the honey for 1 tbsp of molasses. Also used dried apricots instead of peel, and added 1 tbsp of chopped crystallized ginger and an extra teaspoon of ground ginger. Would recommend piercing the top of the cake when drizzling over the glaze to allow more to soak in.
monacake January 28, 2014
this past sunday was cold and snowy - the perfect time to make this cake. it tastes of the past with warm spices and a hearty crumb, and the orange peel brightens it and makes it somehow lighter. what a gift this recipe is. thanks so much for sharing it.
Nancy N. December 23, 2013
I don't have access to candied orange or lemon peel - can I substitute dried apricots or other dried fruit? Also, for a strong ginger lover - what about adding a little candied ginger -that I do have? Looks great, thanks for the great website.
Nicholas D. December 24, 2013
You can, and you can.
mknubel December 23, 2013
Could this recipe work with plain gluten-free flour?
somebunnyslove December 22, 2013
I was wondering if molasses could be used instead of the honey and brown sugar?
Nicholas D. December 22, 2013
I wouldn't, if I were you. The honey's pretty key.
Lisa K. December 26, 2013
Actually another Alsatian cookie/cake, lebkuchen, is similarly spicy and does use molasses -- but with white sugar (and unsweetened chocolate). So if you are looking for the darker flavor of molasses, you might enjoy lebkuchen.
Asaracoglu December 22, 2013
Can you add the recipe for the sugar glaze? This looks delicious!
Nicholas D. December 22, 2013
It's basically 4 parts confectioners' sugar to 1 part water, with a tiny bit of lemon juice.
JessieV December 22, 2013
This bread sounds so beautiful, and I, too, muse over memories, Sicilian recipes, and tripping in the woods. Off to make this today - thank you!
sofia December 20, 2013
For someone who cannot consume dairy, what could be an alternative to the milk? Or could I use almond milk for instance?
Nicholas D. December 22, 2013
I think that would work. It's worth trying.
Beata December 20, 2015
I always use almond milk instead of milk and it always works.
healthierkitchen December 19, 2013
Wow! this sounds terrific and not too unhealthy! Will make this over the weekend.
Sara S. December 19, 2013
This looks fantastic! Do you think it work if I made it a day or two in advance?
Nicholas D. December 19, 2013
It would!