When I am on a diet, I can go for days without eating chocolate, for weeks without eating pasta and for months without buying ice cream. But there are two things that I can't spend a single day without: My breakfast; which I take with cereals or tartines and a bowl of milk, and my afternoon snack; with a slice of cake or cookies and a cup of mint tea or milk. I was raised that way. My mother always told us that a nourishing and well balanced breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for the afternoon snack, it's a different story. It is more like a family ritual than a biological need to fuel my body. As far as I can remember, we always had tea or coffee with some kind of pastry after coming back from school. We usually wait until everyone gets home to gather around a hot mint tea and some fresh baked sweets. If for some reason one day, there was no tea and no sweets on the table, we would feel lost. My mother and I share the same feeling about this particular meal: I think it is more about the family getting together than the snack itself.
When I think about those baked sweets, four of them come to my mind: Beignets, Yoghurt Cake, Torno (kind of sablé with icing on top) and Pain d'épices...Ahh Pain d'épices, the whole house smells like the Islands when my mother makes this fragrant cake. Pain d'épices, which translates "bread of spices" is a french cake whose ingredients contain honey and many spices.
I made this cake many times but had never been satisfied with the result. It was too dry, not fragrant enough... in a word nothing like how Pain d'épice should be. Last week, while browsing my friend's blog, I came across a recent post she had about pain d'épices; or what was supposed to be Nonette (like Pain d'épices but with an orange marmalade filling) turned into a mini-Pain d'épices. Just looking at the picture made my mouth water. I was sold, I had to try the recipe. I took a bet with Lili that I will be able to make the marmalade slip into the dough to become a filling like Nonette are supposed to be. Infortunatly, I lost my bet but I had the pain d'épices of my childhood in my kitchen and it was so worth the loss. I even told my mother about it. She was happy that I won't have to ask her every time:"how come I can't have the same result as yours" and every time she tells me:"c'est l'experience ma fille!" (it's the experience my daughter!).
-5.82 oz all purpose unbleached flour
-1.60 oz light brown sugar
-2 oz honey (you can go until 4 oz)
-1/2 cup fresh orange juice
-3 tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 star anise
-1/4 cinnamon stick
-1 tbsp candied orange rinds roughly chopped
-1/2 tsp ground cardamom
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-Pinch of ground cloves
-Pinch of salt
-Orange marmalade or jelly (1/2 tsp for each baking cup)
In a bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda, salt and the ground spices. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the butter with the orange juice, the cinnamon stick, the star anise and the orange rinds. Once the butter melts and the liquid reaches a boiling stage, remove the saucepan from the stove, discard the cinnamon stick and star anise and pour the liquid over the dry ingredients while whisking vigorously, until all gets blended. Let it cool a little bit, then spoon the batter into mini-muffin cups or standard muffin cups. Top each cup with the orange marmalade and press gently. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 12-14 min in mini-muffin cups and for 15-18 min in a standard muffin cups. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container and serve until the following day. Your patience will be rewarded.
In francais please:
Pour la recette en francais , cette fois-ci je vous invite a visiter le blog de Lili pour une explication tout en détails de la recette. Les seuls changements que j'y ai apporté sont: l'utilisation de pelures d'oranges confites que j'avais coupé en dès et non pas râpé, et puis j'ai préparé mon propre mélange d'épices pour le pain d'épices, vu que je ne l 'ai pas trouvé ici. Je vous conseille de consommer le pain d'épices le lendemain de sa cuisson pour avoir un goût authentique et bien parfumé.