cold in July

It is pretty unusual to have cold weather in July but we really had quite the cold snap at the end of last week. [It's all relevant I guess, if I had 65 degrees on my birthday I would be jumping for joy.] Usually love propels me to turn on the oven during a muggy heatwave to make my sweetie a birthday cake of her choosing but this year the temp was so low I was positively looking forward to turning on the oven. She choose to not have a cake. Apparently she decided that having a whole cake in the house which she will end up eating 75% is just not that good of an idea [go figure]. A chocolate cupcake, and a breakfast that included an almond croissant were plenty she said.

So there I was wanting something. and it was too cold to eat ice cream. Yes, I admit it, I only really enjoy ice cream when the temp is in the 80's and sunny. Then I realized that even though it was July, I could turn on my oven and I made Pain d'├ępices.

This is a perfect recipe for twisting to my use. Many of the versions call for honey. One can easily substitute agave nectar for honey in any recipe without too much thinking. Also it is not suppose to be very sweet and my sweet tooth is so sensitive that this is important. It has a heavier, more substantial batter, it calls for part rye flour, this signals to me it is a perfect candidate for using whole wheat flour. My favorite way to eat this is with soft butter spread thickly but really the options are endless.

In case you too experience the need to turn on your oven I give my version below, cobbled together from many.

Be sure all your ingredients are room temp before you start. Adjust the spice levels to suit your own taste, I love ginger so I weight it more, I replace the anise seeds with other spices, you get the idea.

Preheat oven to 350, butter and flour a bread pan.

Sift together and set aside:

3.5 c WW pastry flour
.5 c rye flour [dark as you can find]
2.5 t baking soda
2 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
.5 t sea salt
.25 t nutmeg
.25 t mace
.25 t all spice
.25 t black pepper
.25 t ground cloves

[if you are an anise fan, I'm not, replace the mace and all spice with .5 t anise seeds]

Mix, with an electric mixer:

.25 c soft butter
1 c agave nectar or palm sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 T fresh orange zest or 1.5 t dried orange peel minced

Add to butter/egg mixture:

1 c water [not cold]

Add the sifted, dry ingredients, a third at a time and combine well. Scrape the sides as you add.

Spread into the loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top will be dark though not burnt.

Cool on rack 10 minutes then remove from pan.
Try to cool completely before you slice and eat. [good luck with that!]

If your slices are crumbling horribly it's because you didn't wait for it to completely cool, but no one could blame you.

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