Sunday 25 May 2014

Pain d'epices (spiced fruit loaf)

I based this on Philip Howard's recipe in the sweet volume of the Square cookbook although I'm also going to try this recipe from the estimable David Lebovitz. I think Phil's book is the one I'm taking to my desert island. My dessert island, if you will. (I thank you!) This is an enriched fruit loaf but minus any actual fruit. If cut when warm, there's a wonderful, heady aroma of citrus and spices. It has an orange crumb that almost glows. The French traditionally use it as we would a malt loaf, thickly buttered. They also grill very thin slices and serve it under foie gras. 

Butter and flour a 1Kg loaf tin.

Mix together 125g strong white bread flour, 125g plain flour, 50g caster sugar, the seeds of one vanilla pod, 20g baking powder (yes 20g, that's not a typo),  a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and one each of finely crushed cinnamon and star anise and the grated zest of one orange and one lemon.

Phil also adds 30g candied peel. I didn't. Don't confuse sweet candied peel for candid peel which is a piece of lemon zest that tells you exactly where you can get off!

Now add 50ml of milk, 250g honey and three eggs. Beat for five minutes to develop the gluten in the bread flour. You'll need either a free standing mixer or the forearms of Zeus.

Finely ground spices. I have a new macro lens for my camera. Can you tell? What fun.
There will be many, many shots like this until I grow bored of it.

Interestingly, Phil Howard now asks you to knead the 'dough'. Only, it wasn't a dough. It was wetter than an otter's pocket. Only if you reinvented physics could you have kneaded this. David Lebovitz and everyone else I checked with tells you to pour the 'batter'. This I did.

Temperatures vary too. Phil says 150°C which seems very low for a cake and fabulously low for bread. David says 180°C. I went with 170°C. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

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