Pain d’épices… and Baking to Soothe a Heavy Heart

Pain d'épicesWithout going into a whine fest (I’d much rather have a ‘wine’ fest), things have been rough lately. Our beautiful dog Pastis has been very ill for the past two weeks, and some days it has been so bad, that we were fearing he wouldn’t make it. He’s chronically ill and had a terrible relapse. I was so hopeful he would not get sick again. The last time was more than a year ago. I’ve lost count of the vet visits, emergency trips to the animal hospital in Amsterdam, medicines and days in pain for him — and in tears for me. As I write this, he’s sleeping quietly. I don’t know if it’s a good sleep or if it’s the effect of the two shots he had yesterday. I’m just happy he’s not in pain. And I’m keeping my finger crossed he’ll pull through.
This morning, after a good night’s sleep (it’s been a while), I decided I needed to get in the kitchen and bake. Create. Revel in the joy of stirring, tasting, smelling. Letting go of the stress as I made something — not for work, but purely for me. Kitchen therapy is a very real, and very effective remedy for a heavy heart. And sharing my kitchen experiments makes it all the better.

PS: My pain d’épices tastes very much like the one I always buy from a man who specializes in making them and sells them at the market in Buxy (Bourgogne). Like this one, it’s not too sweet, not too dry and perfectly spicy. Sometimes he adds blueberries, ginger or orange peel. Feel free to do the same with this recipe as well. Although I would first try it just as is.

Pain d’épices 

  • 220g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp pain d’épices spices
  • 100 g light brown sugar
  • 100 ml honey
  • 50 ml single cream
  • 50 ml water
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 220°C and line a rectangular baking tin with baking paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Add in the pain d’épices spices and the brown sugar and mix well. Make a well in the center and add in the honey, cream, water and eggs. Carefully fold in these ingredients until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 20 minutes. Cover with foil and continue baking for another ten minutes. Take the tin out of the oven and place it on a rack for 5 minutes. Take the bread out of the tin, allow to cool and serve.
Pain d'épices

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