I have always had this dream that I would live in France and run a small Bed and Breakfast in the bucolic countryside complete with vege garden and a small orchard in the back. Of course, we would be welcomed into the community by our new neighbours and our days would be spent welcoming guests into our home, sipping champagne and eating wonderful food. Ok that is my “rose coloured glasses” version of life, reality is of course a different beast altogether.
David Lebovitz wrote about his move to France with all the trials and tribulations associated, and a big dose of reality thrown in for good measure, in his book “The Sweet Life In Paris“. I have been reading David’s blog for a few months now and have enjoyed his witty observations of life in Paris so when my husband brought this book home for me I eagerly dived right in. From the moment he arrived at his apartment in Paris to the chocolate lady refusing to sell him chocolate David gives us an amusing snapshot of what it is like to live in Paris and when all else fails it appears David is not above bribing the locals with his famous chocolate brownies.
The first time I put this book down was when I came across this recipe for Pain D’Epices Au Chocolate (chocolate spice bread), it was just simply crying out for me to make it. First off this is called a bread, but it is more like a cake, albeit a rich dense version. Now normally I like to make changes to recipes to make them more to my taste, but this recipe was amazing and as far as I was concerned no changes were required. The only thing I did differently was to omit the anise seeds, but that was only because I couldn’t get them. If I can ever find them I will try the recipe again as I think this will add an extra dimension to the taste. David’s recommendation was to make this recipe the day before and wrap it in plastic for 24 hours so that the flavours infuse. I did have a sneaky slice on the day I made it, just for research purposes I might add, I mean to say how was I going to tell if it was better on day 2 if I didn’t have something to compare it to.
As per David’s suggestion I matched this cake up with pears poached with cinnamon and vanilla and I reduced the poaching liquid to make a sauce.
Based on the overwhelming success of this recipe with friends and family (or perhaps it is just my cookbook addiction) I have wisely ordered David’s new book “Ready for Dessert, My Best Recipes“. So now I am eagerly checking my mailbox everyday waiting for it to arrive.
And a note for David, if you ever read this, please put me out of my misery, as a former freight forwarder believe me I have seen stranger things happen than peoples freight turning up after being “missing” for 6 years. I just have to know: Did you ever get your boxes of personally autographed cookbooks delivered to you?
- 100gm unsalted butter, cubed
- 200gm dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 160gm plain all purpose flour
- 25gm unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks
- 80gm honey
- 130gm sugar.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Spray a 23cm round cake tin with oil, line bottom with baking paper and spray the baking paper as well. Dust the sides of the cake tin with flour and tap out excess.
Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. In the mean time bring a saucepan of water to the boil and take off heat. Place the heatproof bowl containing chocolate and butter on the saucepan and stir until melted and smooth. If there is not enough heat in the water to melt the chocolate mixture place back on a medium heat and stir until smooth. Take off the heat and allow chocolate mix to cool to room temperature.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt into a bowl.
Place eggs, yolks, honey and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer and whisk for approx. 5 minutes until mixture is thick and creamy.
With a spatula fold in half of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the remaining egg mixture.
Tip: Be careful when folding not to knock the air out of the egg mixture.
Use a spoon to sprinkle one third of the sifted dry ingredients over the batter and use a spatula to carefully fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Repeat twice more for the remaining ingredients. Use spatula to scrape mixture into prepared cake tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake feels barely set in the centre, but is still moist.
Remove from oven and allow cake to cool for approx. 15 minutes. Turn cake out of cake tin onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
David recommends that this cake is best wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 24 hours in order enhance the flavours. If like me you can’t wait that long to dive in feel free to have a sneaky piece before wrapping…..I won’t tell anyone!