Pain d’Epices

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Written by Rae

I was first introduced to this cake by Benoit because his father makes it using his honey (he is a beekeeper) and sends us a loaf each time they send a package from France.  The loaf is made with rye flour and honey, which makes it sweet and earthy, and spices such as anise, ginger, and cinnamon give it a robust flavor.  The loaf is sweetened only with honey, except for the scant 2 tablespoons of brown sugar required in the recipe I used.  I love eating this loaf because it feels healthy.  In fact, I read somewhere that the spices were considered medicinal, so that in the olden days it would be given as medicine for minor ailments, or even used as a poultice for wounds.

The loaf the Benoit’s father sends out it normally very dense and moist from the honey.  It is heavily spiced from anise, and he uses that alone to spice his cake.  The recipe I used is a little lighter and fluffy. However, it is still very hearty, and is spiced with anise, cinnamon and ginger.  It also contains candied orange peels, which beautifully compliment the spices and the honey.

Overall, I was really happy with the way my loaf turned out!  I had been wanting to bake something so badly for a while, but sometimes I get discouraged because I can’t eat much of what I bake due to my diet and health condition.  This loaf turned out to be petite, and the perfect size to not go overboard!

I also love baking quick breads.  I love their simplicity and how fine something so simple can taste so good.  To me, they are really an homage to all the home bakers , which is probably where it all started before pastry turned into a fine art.

The recipe I used was from the book, The Art of French Pastry, by Jacky Pfeiffer.

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