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The Perfect Holiday Bread Recipe

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Are you looking for a new recipe to impress your family this holiday season? Or perhaps you’re in need of a new gift idea for coworkers, teachers, and the alway busy this time of year mailman. This recipe for Pain d’Epices is the perfect choice! You can capture the warm and joyful spirit of this time of year, fill your home with the scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus, and delight everyone in your life.

The following is an excerpt from From the Wood-Fired Oven, by Richard Miscovich. It has been adapted for the web.


Pain d’Epices

This is an old-fashioned gingerbread-like quick bread— the name means “spice bread.” It’s a holiday favorite. I’ve sold it, given it away as gifts, and eaten it at Christmastime for years. The main leavener is baking soda, which creates carbon dioxide when it comes into contact with the acidic honey. Unlike baking powder, which makes carbon dioxide when it becomes wet and again when it meets the heat of the oven, baking soda creates carbon dioxide only once. Make sure your oven is ready to go once you start mixing this one. Unbaked batter that sits around will lose its carbon dioxide and become heavy.

Like other dense rye breads, this bread has an impressive shelf life. It will become a bit chewier after several days, but I find it delicious toasted and served warm with butter.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in Saveur magazine, issue 30.

Yield: 2 loaf pans, 1 Pullman pan, or numerous mini loaves
Prefermented flour: 0%

Wood-fired oven temperature window: 350°F (177°C) and falling
Home oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

Ingredients

4 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup whole rye flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp anise seeds, ground
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, ground
1 1/8 cup milk
2 cups honey
1/4 cup fresh orange peel, grated on the small holes of a box grater (about 2–3 oranges)
1-2 lemons for fresh lemon peel, zested, grated on the small holes of a box grater
3 egg yolks, beaten
Whole raw almonds(blanched),  as needed

Procedure

  • Sift together the rye flour, baking soda, and spices into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk the milk and honey together over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the orange and lemon peel and remove from the heat.
  • Before you add the yolks, you must first temper them so they don’t cook in the hot mixture. To do this, slowly drizzle a little of the hot mixture into the yolks while whisking. Now add the tempered yolks back into the liquids.
  • Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix gently just until smooth.
  • Divide evenly between two greased loaf pans.
  • Arrange the almonds in a decorative pattern on top of the unbaked batter.
  • Place the pans directly on the hearth in the 350°F (177°C) zone, and bake for 15 minutes. Then move the pans into a 325°F (163°C) zone in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The loaves may need to be tented with foil to prevent excessive darkening.
  • If you’re using a home oven, bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temp to 325°F and bake for approximately 25 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The loaves may need to be tented with foil to prevent excessive darkening.
  • Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then unmold them and cool them completely before slicing.

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From the Wood-Fired Oven

New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire

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