Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...

…That’s what pain d’epices are made of. I can’t pronounce it but it translates to “spice bread” or gingerbread, even though ginger is one of the few spices not in it! This was another one of those instances where I saw a gorgeous, mouth-watering photo on Tartelette and vowed that I would make it happen. At least this time it only took two months instead of two years. I was a little worried about the dent that all of those spices were going to make in my bank account, and then one of my officemates told me about how the Indian supermarket down the street from our office sells super-inexpensive spices. And behold, they did! I got all the spices I needed for a little over twenty dollars (and almost half of that was the cardamom, which is guess is pretty pricey anywhere you go). I ground ‘em up in my food processor, although I have to say that at 50 grams each, it was WAAAAAY more than I needed. As in, there are two sandwich bags each three-quarters full of ground spices sitting in my freezer. There’s no way I’ll be able to use them all, even if I make pain d’epices every day for the rest of the year. But hey, it’s giving me good incentive to make them again! That, and the fact that they were soooo good. I was worried that they wouldn’t be sweet enough, and the spices are definitely prominent (especially the peppercorn), but I have to say that the balance was totally delightful. They were dense yet springy, and yeasty, almost like baked donuts. Plus, they smelled awesome and looked adorable. These are a really fun winter treat for anyone in possession of a mini-bundt pan.

Pain D'Epices:adapted from Saveurs France, December 2011.

Makes 12 mini cakes

For the spice mix:
equal parts in ounces or grams (I usually go by 30 grams of each & refrigerate)
star anise
black peppercorns
dried lemon peel
dried orange peel

Place the cinnamon, cardamom seeds and the rest of the ingredients in a coffee grinder and process until finely ground.

For the cakes:
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup milk (Bloggers note: for whatever reason, I had cream but no milk in the fridge, so I used cream. Don't think it affected the cakes negatively)
1 cup Jeanne's gluten free all purpose flour mix or regular flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon spice mix for Pain d'epices
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, kept cold
1 large egg

Sugar coating:
equal parts sugar and equals spice mix stirred together well.

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. Butter 12 mini bundt cake pans or other of your choice.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the honey, dark brown sugar and milk until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and reserve.
In a food processor or with a pastry blender, combine the flour, baking powder, spice mix, and unsalted butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Whisk the egg into the cooled milk mixture and add it to the flour mix. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared molds and coo 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out free of crumbs. Let the cakes cool completely before rolling them in the sugar coating.

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