Artisanal production methods
Pain d'épices may appear to be a simple cake to make. But you need to be aware of the traditional methods!
The first step of the recipe is to mix flour, sugar and honey to make the basic dough. Once this dough has been kneaded, it should be left aside to rest for two to three weeks. Then, add egg yolks, raising agent, flavourings and spices before leaving the dough to rest for a few more days. The resting time is important to make sure this cake is a success! Once cooked, this pain d'épices is sometimes decorated with candied fruit.
Good to know: this cake is usually served in autumn/winter, traditionally for the end-of-year celebrations, but you can, of course, find it all year round!
From one generation to the next
Pain d’épices was originally from China, known as mi-kong or honey bread, and it was first introduced in Burgundy in the 14th century by Margaret of Flanders, Philip-the-Bold's wife. At the end of the 18th century, Barnabé Boittier, son of a pain d'épices manufacturer, married to the daughter of a pain d'épices merchant, took on the recipe and developed the family business.
In 1838, Louis Mulot took over the business, and then his son passed it down to his son-in-law Louis-Auguste Petitjean, who was already working in this trade.
This is how the Maison Mulot & Petitjean was founded. Today, it is the only artisanal company in Dijon producing pain d’épices, even though there were fourteen of them in 1940.The history of the Maison Mulot & Petitjean
The nonnettes of Dijon
Have you heard of this other delicious speciality of Dijon? The nonnette is a little round spice cake with an orange jam filling.
The Maison Mulot & Petitjean produces nonnettes in a range of flavours to make sure there's something for everyone, while respecting the traditional recipe!
You can find blackcurrant, apricot or even chocolate-flavoured nonnettes. The name for these sweet treats comes from the French word "nonne" for the nuns who made them in their convent in the Middle Ages.
Artisanal production methods, in keeping with the times
Mulot & Petitjean is the only heir of the traditional artisanal method of making Dijon pain d'épices, and so this family-run business is upholding the expertise that has been passed down through the centuries, while adapting to the current market. In 2017, they introduced an organic range for the pain d'épices (spice cake) and nonnettes.
The company was the first in the food industry in Burgundy to be awarded the Living Heritage Company label, the goal of which is to showcase French expertise. They endorse the values of respecting traditions, a continuous search for innovation and ensuring the quality of their products and services.
Visit the Maison du Pain d'Epices
Come and visit the Mulot & Petitjean Fabrique de Pain d'Epices in Dijon to see for yourself the stages of making this traditional spice cake, see the company's machines, learn about the history and hear anecdotes from some of the people involved in the institution. Your tour of this world of sweet treats will come to an end with a tasting of the various specialities made here!
As well as the "Fabrique" where you can, of course, buy their products, Mulot & Petitjean also have 4 shops in Dijon and one in Beaune town centre.
Please note: entertainment especially for children is organised at the Fabrique de Pain d’Epices, including decorating their own pain d’épices.