Friday, April 24, 2015

Baby Spice: Pain d’epices

Pain d’epices
(from Desserts by Michel Roux. 
Roux writes that the recipe is from Denis Ruffel of the Patisserie Millet in Paris.)

250 g / 9 oz honey
125 g/ 4.5 oz rye flour and 125 g/ 4.5 oz plain flour sifted together
20 g/ 3/4 oz baking powder
125 ml/ 4.5 oz milk
3 eggs
50 g/ 2 oz sugar
1 teaspoon or so warm spices of your choice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, aniseed)
a few drops of vanilla or anise extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Warm the honey in a saucepan over low heat until liquid. I use a mixture of rapeseed honey and wildflower honey. Let cool down to 77 degrees.

Put the flours and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the honey, milk, eggs, sugar and whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the spices and extract. (In Ruffel’s recipe, he adds 30 g/ 1 oz finely chopped candied lemon and orange peel at this point. I’ve never added it and don’t miss it).  Whisk everything together. It is a relatively loose batter, Roux refers to it as a “paste”.

If you make the mistake of tasting the unbaked batter now, you’ll have difficulty ever getting it into the oven...this batter tastes as good as it smells. So, get a grip, and pour the batter into a loaf pan that has been lined with greased parchment paper. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, slide a second baking sheet under the first sheet and bake for another 30 minutes or until tester pulled out of the center comes out clean.

The additional baking pan thing might seem fussy, but it prevents the bottom of the cake from getting overdone while the dense middle cooks thoroughly. The resulting cake has a consistent crumb layer top, sides and bottom. Don’t skip this step or you will have a burned bottom (and I know from burned bottoms).

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, unmold and let cool on rack.

I love to have a toasted, buttered slice for breakfast. It is also a nice snack. The loaf keeps nicely when wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. It also freezes perfectly.

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