Tuesday, March 2, 2010

ABC - Pain d'Epices

The day has finally arrived. What’s so special about today, you’re wondering? Today is when Wafae and I launch our very own brand-spanking new baking project we like to call the ABC of the Month. Click HERE for more info on that.

I asked Wafae to do the honor of choosing our very first recipe from Baking for all Occasions, and she picked Pain d’Epices. It's a great first recipe because it's very easy and quick to make. You need two bowls: one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet ingredients. Then you add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and mix. You could easily do it by hand without dirtying your mixer :o)

This French “spice bread” combines about 5 different spices which coexist beautifully in this bread. This bread uses rye flour which gives it that rustic texture: dense but with a great chew. This is not common in in American-style quick breads. It reminded me of a childhood favorite called Ontbijtkoek. This is just a guess, but I think the honey in this recipe as the sole sweetener of this bread, gives it a chewy texture, which I liked. Traditionally, slices of this bread are slathered with whipped cream cheese or used to make an ice cream sandwich. My preference: a thick layer of butter. Yum!

When I tasted this cake a few weeks when Wafae made it, I liked it instantly. The combination of these particular spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and anise seeds) are just magical together. In addition, it's not too sweet. The only thing I took issue with was that the bread wasn’t moist! Flo mentions this in her intro to the recipe but I didn’t think it was supposed to be that dry. I played a bit with the recipe, creating a matrix of Baker’s Percentages from other similar recipes as a guideline. I won’t bore you with my percentages but I increased the honey and the liquid ingredients. When I baked version #2, I was very pleased. It was softer and more moist. However, sometimes, bad things happen to good breads. The baking soda went crazy. Here, I’ll show you:

I grabbed my big jar of whole cloves and used them for “eyes” on either side of that “big nose”. I couldn’t help myself :o) I'll have to use a combination of baking soda and baking powder next time.

A big thanks to Wafae for picking this recipe. Although I haven't found the perfect balance of moisture and texture, I think this recipe is pretty good and enjoyable, especially with a cup of tea. If you'd like to give this bread a try yourself, you're in luck. I found the recipe for it on David Lebovitz' blog.

Stay tuned for the next ABC of the Month. The recipe for April is the Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake, chosen by yours truly. If you would like to bake along with us, please email me.

Final thoughts/tips:
  • Hubby liked it, although he likes his slice with a generous layer of honey.
  • I made half the recipe which yielded 2 mini loaves.
  • Instead of water and butter, I used milk.
  • Don't forget to check out Wafae's blog.
  • At this point, our blog roll consists of Wafae and myself :o) Hopefully by this time next month, we'll have a few people baking along with us :o)


  1. I love the "face" on the bread. I woudl have loved to join you guys, but I'm in enough groups for now =]. Have fun!

  2. Hanaa,
    Your bread looks cute in the picture; it's even moister than mine I have to say. good job!:)
    Looking forward to the next ABC entry...Also, the way you described your first ABC experience is way more elaborate than mine. You should really consider a career of a food writer:)

  3. This looks wonderful Hanaa!


  4. Very reminiscent of "ontbijtkoek" or maybe "kruidkoek". Looks great, (I bet the loaf got a nose for the spices!)

  5. A spice bread with rye flour? I've never heard of such a thing, but it sounds wonderful. All the best on your new venture.

  6. Congratulations Hanna on your very first ABC post! What a fun thing you're doing! I may be joining you soon once I get my waistline back to normal:( I'm holding off on all the baking for a while but still cooking yummy stuff which I will post about soon. Hanna, I was floored when I got your email! I couldn't believe you actually remembered when my flight was! I think Allah sent me an angel in you to help me get through all this! Thanks for everything!

  7. This looks so tempting, but the last thing I need right now is to join another baking club!

    By the way, I think this particular recipe is available on the Web. David Lebovitz posted it on his Web site:

  8. Hanaa, YUM! I really enjoy breads with spices in them. The house always smells amazing and the flavors of spices reminds me of the holidays. The nose is too funny! Your adventures with this new cookbook sounds like fun

  9. I really want to get to this but I can't imagine doing this, until the summer, when I have free time. I have to make it gluten free so that means no rye flour. I will play around and see if I can pull something out of this.


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