Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Pain d'épices - Taste and Create
This month for Taste and Create I was paired with Veronica of La Recette du Jour - a blog filled with lots of delicious-looking French recipes. I was slightly intimidated upon discovering this - everything was measured in grams and baked at Celsius, and I couldn't pronounce the names of half the recipes!
But I think the point of Taste and Create is partly to draw us out of our comfort zones, to make something we might not otherwise make. So I plodded ahead, eager to try something new.
I found several recipes that I would like to try (and probably will try even though I didn't choose them for this event). The one I finally settled on is called Pain d'épices. Veronica describes it as being "the French equivalent of gingerbread or parkin." Well, I don't exactly know what parkin is, but I know what gingerbread is, so there you have it. I think that Pain d'épices translates into "spice bread" or something like that.
After choosing a recipe, I had to figure out how I was going to measure my ingredients! I've never measured ingredients according to weight. But here I lucked out. I discovered that my simple kitchen scale measures, not only in ounces and pounds, but also in grams and kilograms. So I used that to measure my ingredients, instead of my trusted measuring cups. The only drawback to this is that anyone following this recipe also has to have a gram-measuring scale, because I didn't translate any of these measurements into cups.
The only thing I really wasn't sure about was "10 cl milk." My scale definitely does not measure cl! I searched around on the Internet for a while until I learned that 10 cl of milk is approximately 3.4 fluid ounces, or a little less than 1/2 cup.
On to the recipe!
100 g honey
140 g wholemeal flour (I took that to mean whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
10 cl milk (just under 1/2 cup)
40 g butter
65 g soft brown sugar
1 tsp quatre-épices (this is a French combination of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ... pepper! - I used 1/4 tsp. each)
Preheat the oven to 180C (350 F). Warm the milk and add the honey, sugar and butter off the heat, stirring well. Put the flour, baking powder and 4-épices (spices) in a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, break the egg into it, and add the milk. Mix well (or just throw the whole lot into a food processor).
Pour into a buttered 23-cm (8- or 9-inch) loaf tin and bake for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 150C (300 F) and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Store wrapped in clingfilm to keep it moist.
Verdict - Holy cow, I think from now on pepper will be my secret ingredient in any spiced baked good I make. Oatmeal cookies, carrot cake, zucchini bread - I'm adding pepper! I was tentative and nervous to add pepper to this recipe, but I figured if the French can do it, so can I. And I'm so glad I did. This spice combination was surprisingly wonderful! It gives an extra depth of flavor, and a little bit of bite. Plus, I loved licking the pan that the milk and honey had been in, after adding it to the flour. It tasted like honey-butter - delicious!
I made a simply powdered sugar glaze to serve over the Pain d'épices: 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar mixed with a tiny amount of milk and vanilla until it was drizzling consistency. It moistened and sweetened the finished product.
My "summed up" phrase for this recipe: "A deliciously spicy bread made with milk, honey, and the surprise ingredient - pepper!"