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Sandrine's Pain D'epices

This traditional Alsatian recipe comes from Raymond Ost, chef and co-owner of Sandrine's in Harvard Square.

For the spice mixture:
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground anise
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
For the bread:
1 pound (3 3/4 to 4 cups) flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
Pain d'epices spice mixture
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
Set the oven to 300 degrees and line an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper or wax paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the spice mixture.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spice mixture, and salt, stirring to mix well. Set aside.

In a small pan, warm the honey. Add the vanilla and the orange and lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the honey mixture. Stir to make a stiff batter. Add water gradually to make a softer dough the consistency of a quick bread or muffin dough - though it will be stickier. Spread it in the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This bread form of pain d'epices is usually not frosted, but if you want a shiny glaze, boil 2 tablespoons of milk with 1 tablespoon of white sugar, letting it get very foamy. Brush this over the hot bread. As the pain d'epices cools, the frosting will lose its whiteness.

By Claire Hopley, Globe Correspondent

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