David’s Paris Kitchen

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If you read any food blogs, you probably read David Lebovitz’s. You should—it is wonderful. I can always count on David to teach me something new and to make me smile. His site inspires kitchen projects and frequent daydreams of trips to Paris. The blog is such a great resource, but of course David’s work doesn’t stop there. He is also a successful chef and cookbook author (and all-around great guy!). So, it is an exciting day for all of us when he releases a new cookbook.

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My Paris Kitchen is David’s homage to his life in France and the food he cooks at home. The first thing you’ll notice about the book is how beautiful it is—both the photography (by the talented Ed Anderson) and the design are sharp and evocative. (Ten Speed Press seems to be leading the pack as cookbooks published here in the states get better and better looking.) But it’s David’s voice— funny, smart, and informative—that draws you in. He’s created a book that manages to be beautiful, engaging, and full of recipes you will be anxious to try.

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David’s Paris is diverse and modern, a place where naan exists alongside grain salads and tarte tropézienne. This isn’t some cliche of Paris—it is the real deal. I’ve been working my way through the book for the past couple of weeks. The first recipe I tried was the Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze that Heidi had written about a while back. It is a lovely snacking cake that is subtly scented with bay and vibrant with orange. It makes a good afternoon snack with a cup of tea. His Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate (pictured above) is a variation on a familiar theme, but the kind of food I’m always be happy to eat. I liked the addition of pomegranate seeds and the versatility of the recipe. But so far my favorite is David’s recipe for pain d’épices, or Honey-Spice Bread.

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In recent years, one of the foods I look forward to eating in Paris is the pain d’épices from Poilâne. It is a small, dark, loaf of bread that, when sliced thin and slathered with salted butter, is one of my favorite things. I’ve tried recipes for this bread in the past, but have always been disappointed in one way or another. David’s recipe does not disappoint. The bread is sweet, dense and aggressively spiced—it’s perfect. You can use whatever honey you have on hand, but I’d like to advocate for your darkest honey. I used a jar of very dark and mineral-y avocado honey that we picked up in California, but buckwheat would also be good. This loaf is a real taste of Paris, wherever you may be.

Merci, David, for another beautiful book.

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Honey-Spice Bread (from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz)

Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

  • 3/4 cup (240g) honey
  • 1/2 cup packed (90g) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (175g) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (90g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon whole or ground anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Heat the honey, brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan until it begins to boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup (140g) of the all-purpose flour. Let cool to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup (45g) all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, anise, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk.

5. Stir half the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; add the eggs, then the rest of the honey mixture, stirring until smooth. (If any bits of flour remain, whisk the batter briefly to break them up and incorporate them.)

6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife, then tip the cake out onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely. If possible, wait a day before slicing. Pain d’épices will keep for at least 1 week at room temperature, if well wrapped. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

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22 comments to “David’s Paris Kitchen”

  1. He can do no wrong in my book. Looking forward to devouring the new release!

  2. I pre-ordered the book a while back, I love all of his recipes. Tried and true.

  3. vonmoishe says:

    April 1st, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Is there really no fat in the recipe? (e.g., butter, oil, etc.) Does it stay moist if not eaten in the first day or two?

  4. vonmoishe- there is not, and it does!

  5. I’m so excited about this book; I’ve been having a lot of fantasies of Paris recently and I think this will either help to ease them or make them a lot worse.

    These are beautiful photos, Tim! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe (I too already made the Bay Leaf Pound Cake).

  6. I can’t wait for the book to show up at my door next week!

  7. I agree about David; love reading his blog, have his cookbooks, and this one I’ll order for sure right away. Always nice to get your perspective, too.

  8. Katy- It will make them a lot worse. ; )

  9. Tia Chocolate says:

    April 1st, 2014 at 11:59 am

    [if possible] “wait a day before slicing”? but, but…the best thing about baking is pulling hot things out the oven and eating them immediately!! That rule would not apply to me I am afraid, but I will still try this – and yes, David rocks!

  10. Tia! I would seriously caution you against disobeying David’s suggestion. This is closer to a loaf of bread than a cake, and you need to let those things cool because otherwise the texture is ruined. This is definitely an example of a baked good that you do not want to eat warm from the oven, as tempting as the smell may be!

  11. thanks for this brilliant post!

  12. I adore David’s blog, and I’ve been rather excited about this book, so I can’t wait for it to come out so I can grab a copy and read it in my own French kitchen! This recipe looks fantastic, so thanks for sharing it as it is the sort of thing that my parents like to keep around the house for everyone to snack on and that is where I’m based at the moment. Ever since I heard about this book I’ve had a good feeling about it, and I think up with Joy The Baker’s next book in October it might be fighting for position for favourite book of 2014 for me!

  13. Making this! I’m no baker, but have mastered David’s Almond Cake recipe and everybody LOVES it. Have you tried it? His recipe is perfection. Just recently, I was thinking that I’d like to add another reliable baked good to my very limited repertoire. This Honey-Spice Bread totally fits the bill.

  14. I can’t wait to try this book! Tim, do you think I could I bake this recipe in an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan? I’ve read that recipes with 2-3 cups flour will work in a smaller pan (even when the recipe calls for a 9-inch pan).

  15. Hi Harriet- Yep, I think you’ll be fine.

  16. Can this be baked as muffins? Perhaps with golden raisins or currents added?

  17. Hi Lee- Anything is possible, but I would not recommend it.

  18. Thanks for the response, TIM. I take it that you are recommending against muffins (makes sense) and against adding raisins or currents?

    Thanks! I love your blog.

  19. Looks amazing! What kind (brand) of loaf pan do you use and do you like it?
    Trying to replace my Teflon coated pans.
    Thanks!

  20. Should I err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking this bread? I made this last night and left it in the oven a little too long I think. This morning it’s dry and almost…rubbery? I had a bad experience with pumpkin bread not too long ago that came out raw in the middle (but the pumpkin bread batter was much wetter to begin with…could that be why?).

  21. Hi Lynn- Have you had this kind of bread in the past? It is not like a quick bread (banana bread) there is a little chew to it (more like sandwich bread). And I could even imagine it being described as dryish, especially if you were expecting something more cake-like. It’s usually served sliced thin and spread with butter, or even cream cheese is amazing. I toast mine, and spread it with salted butter and occasionally orange marmalade. So, I’m not sure if it was over-cooked or is simply different than you expected. Try toasting a slice and see what you think?

  22. schneiderluvsdoof says:

    April 17th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    This looks wonderful. Is it OK if I use local honey. I don’t wanna have nightmares…

What do you think?