Pain D’Epices (Honey-Spice Bread)

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a dedicated (almost obsessive) cookbook collector.  As I paged through my newest acquisition, I decided it was time to try a different version of Pain D’Epices.  This recipe is from the newest book of one of my favorite food writers, David Lebovitz.  The book is titled “My Paris Kitchen, recipes and stories”, and it brings to its pages all the talent and charm of the author.  Pain d’epices is the French version of a kind of spice loaf.  It’s more sturdy than gingerbread or spice cake, and highly aromatic.  The key ingredient is honey; the variety that you choose will determine the color and flavor of your bread.  I had recently acquired some artisan honey from Oregon, and I thought this loaf would be the perfect showcase for its deep and aromatic character.  Pain d’epices is a versatile bread, it likes both sweet and savory flavor pals.  I served mine with a lovely goat cheese and a drizzle more of that Oregon honey.  Then I changed the mood by using the pain d’epices as the platform for a creamy, rich, truffle paté, served with a tart arugula salad.  Something for everyone, don’t you think?

Pain D’Epices (Honey-Spice Bread)
(makes one 9-inch loaf)
3/4 cup honey (240 grams)
1/2 cup packed (90 grams) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (180 milliliters) water
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum-free is recommended)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon whole or ground anise seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C).  Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Heat the honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan until it begins to boil.  Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in a cup (140 grams) of the all-purpose flour ( I found it most efficient to use a whisk for this step.)  Let cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and all the ground spices.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.  Stir half the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; add the eggs, then the rest of the honey mixture, stirring just until smooth.  (If any bits of flour remain, whisk the batter briefly to break them up and incorporate them.)  Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 20  minutes, then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  If possible, wait a day before slicing.  Wrapped well, the bread will keep for a week at room temperature, or up to two months in the freezer.
-from “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz.



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