News flash, French tea lovers: Ladurée is coming to LA! In just a few short days, this iconic tea and sweets shop will be opening its doors at 2 locations in SoCal, one in Beverly Hills and the other at The Grove. And for those of you who don’t live around the area, not to worry–their e-commerce site will also be picking up soon!With Ladurée and the holidays on my mind, I decided to delve into my cookbook collection this week to bake up Ladurée’s recipe for Pain d’épices, a spiced Christmas bread that tastes like the love child of gingerbread and fruitcake.The texture of this gingerbread is slightly chewy and dense without being heavy. One of the secret ingredients is chestnut honey from France, which I purchased at my favorite gourmet store in LA. If you don’t like the taste of chestnuts, orange blossom honey makes a nice substitute.Another special ingredient is quatre épices, a blend of pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. If you can’t find this pre-mixed version, just make your own. This is a common French spice, and any leftovers can be used to make cookies, stews or even pâtés.I like to bake this up in an 8″ Gugelhupf pan, but you can use any small bundt or loaf pan with equally great results. For a batter without any eggs, this bread rises a surprising amount. Expect for the batter to expand to just shy of double by the time it’s fully baked.This gingerbread tastes even better a day later, after the ingredients have a chance to mingle. All those spices will give you a slight tingle on your tounge, which is the perfect reason to pair this with one of Ladurée’s luxurious teas.Pain d’épices is really delicious with Arabian Nights also known as Thé 1001 Nuits, a Chinese green tea with hints of rose, orange blossom, ginger and peppermint. Serve this tea and cake together for a holiday pairing that’s homey, understated and elegant.
Ladurée’s Pain d’épices (Gingerbread)
Makes 1 small loaf or cake.
2/3 cup water
5 star anise
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey, chestnut or orange blossom
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 scant cup flour (115 grams)
1 cup + 1 tsp rye flour (110 grams)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp quatre épices
2 Tbsp candied orange peel, diced
8″ Gugelhupf or loaf pan, well-greased and floured
1. Make the Honey Syrup. In a pot, bring the water, star anise, butter, sugar and honey to a boil. Take off the heat, then let the flavors infuse for 2 hours. After 2 hours, strain the mixture and allow it to cool overnight at room temperature.
2. Make the Batter. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees F. Combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and quatre épices. Sift these ingredients together into a bowl. Add the zest and candied orange. Now add the infused honey syrup and mix with a spoon until the batter is smooth. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
3. Bake the Cake. Bake the cake for 10 minutes at 410 degrees F. After 10 minutes lower the temperature to 355 degrees F, then continue to bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out just clean. Cool the gingerbread for a few minutes on a rack, then flip it out of the pan and serve immediately. You can also wait for 24 hours before serving for deeper, richer flavor.
Adapted from Ladurée Entertaining: Recipes, Ideas & Inspiration.