Sometimes, we need to slow our pace and consciously, intentionally breathe in and out and think. Think about how events in our life, over time, connect like a jigsaw puzzle. For me, a series of events slowly unfolded beginning in the autumn of 2012 when our daughter, Lisa, walked into a shop in Paris where Julia Child commonly purchased her bakeware. She returned to her home in New Jersey with a shiny, long, narrow baking pan to replicate the bakery goods she saw in Paris bakeries and a jar of jam. Both for me. Prepared with chunky halved white cherries in a smooth raspberry puree, the jam was far and above the best jam that has touched my lips. And the loaf pan? It plays a starring role in the series of events that were yet to occur. I invite you to accompany me on that journey.
From the autumn of 2012, fast forward to January 2017 when along came Milk Street Magazine. I watch America's Test Kitchen on PBS and once had a subscription to Cook's Illustrated Magazine, but, when I came upon an offer for a free charter issue of Christopher Kimball's new Milk Street Magazine, I thought, "What a sweet name for a magazine," so I requested a free copy. (The name, I learned, comes from the address-177 Milk Street-which is the headquarters in downtown Boston for the magazine's editorial offices, cooking school, and television and radio recording studios.) The magazine offer led me to a French Spice Cake (Pain d'épices) recipe on Milk Street's website. So, I gathered ingredients, grated, minced, measured, and stirred.
My world would not be the same again. Baked in my shiny, narrow, long loaf pan from Paris, this tender, cake-like, loaf of bread is perfectly suited spread with a generous slab of butter, St. Dalfour Royal Fig Fruit Spread, or St. Dalfour Ginger & Orange Marmalade. Yes, I do love St. Dalfour fruit juice sweetened jams. And they complement the French theme that's going on here.
FYI, I reduced the butter from 8 tbsp to 4 tbsp and the honey from 1 cup to 1/2 cup. Perfect. To provide the earthiness it deserves, sub a mixture of whole grain flours for the all-purpose flour. Try amaranth, millet, sorghum, einkorn, (hulled) buckwheat, teff, spelt, kamut, barley, oats, or emmer grain. If you don't have a long, narrow loaf pan, the recipe calls for a 9x5-inch loaf pan. As the loaf cools, the spices become more pronounced.
If this concludes my journey to unravel the series of events which began in Paris and ended in my kitchen with a loaf of French Spice Cake, I would be content. However, I think it shall continue. Do you recall the white cherry and raspberry jam that accompanied my loaf pan gift? A flight to Paris to replenish my jar of jam isn't in my radar, but there is a pick-your-own raspberry patch five miles from Brainerd. And summertime always returns.