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David’s Paris Kitchen

If you read any food blogs, you probably read David Lebovitz’s [1]. 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 [2]!). So, it is an exciting day for all of us when he releases a new cookbook.

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 [3] 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.

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 [4] 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.

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.

Honey-Spice Bread (from My Paris Kitchen [5] 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.

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.