Monday, March 2, 2009

Rustic rye mini-loaves with anise seeds

I know that spring has arrived in Europe but here, my gosh, March came in roaring like a lion (to paraphrase Mayor Bloomberg of New York City). It snowed huge clouds of white fluff, the wind is howling in the creaking trees and tonight will be bitterly cold.
So our little primroses remain inside on the window sills from which they like to contemplate the frost. For us, who don't like it as much (although it is pretty, I must admit), I whipped up my magic wand (my 4-year old granddaughter was watching Cinderalla at the time and I felt I had to do something to impress her) and made rustic mini-loaves or honeycakes. Their fragrance filled up the house with dreams of other times, other seasons, other places...
The little ones loved them. Sophia (the 4-year old) even put big pieces in her cereal bowl and said they were delicious with milk. I tried and she's right. It's an awesome combination. The grown-ups like them too, especially the Man who, being born in Belgium, is a big fan of pain d'épice in all its guises. And what are these little loaves if not the rustic cousins of the French and Belgian honeycakes we grew up with? They are very comforting with a hot cup of tea.

  • 140 g dark rye flour
  • 120 g all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 20 g of white whole wheat flour (if you don't have any, don't replace it by regular whole wheat flour. In combination with the rye, the taste would be too strong. Just add another 20g of the all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tbsp roasted almond butter
  • 200 g honey
  • 100 g liquid starter (100% hydration)
  • 100 g almond milk
  • 5 g ground anise seeds
  • 2 g each ground pepper, ginger, clove and cinnamon
  • 3 g salt

  1. Heat up the milk and melt the honey in it
  2. Turn on the oven ( 350 F/177 C)
  3. Add the almond butter to the milk and honey and mix well
  4. Mix the flours, the salt and the spices in a big bowl
  5. Add the starter
  6. Add the milk-almond butter and honey mixture. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated
  7. Spoon the batter into tiny pans (I used a mini-loaf pan sheet which I bought in France but I could have used mini-muffins pans). Mine do not need to be greased but muffin pans sometimes do. So check before spooning the batter
  8. Bake for 30 or 35 minutes. Turn off the oven. Take the loaves out of the pans and put them back in the oven for 5 minutes in case the sides are still a bit pale
  9. Cool down a bit on a cooling rack before devouring them with a nice spoonful of fragrant honey

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