I wanted to make this bread because I have some rye flour. There was a bakery near my former flat that would make French rye bread for me, but since my moving to my new apartment I have no such convenience, and I am too lazy to dirty my hands with flour. So to avoid letting the flour expire and then throwing it away, I searched long and hard for a recipe and finally came across this one in the bread cookbook The Art of Bread.
In French it's called Pain d'epice—spiced bread. Its history can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It's easy to make, but it's not so easy to obtain the spices the recipe calls for: anise, clove and nutmeg. They're not sold individually in Chinese supermarkets, but most five-spice packets contain some of these spices. Unfortunately, you don't know the proportion of each spice, and, what's worse, the five-spice mixtures here almost invariably contain Sichuan pepper, aka hua jiao. Frankly, I'd rather my bread lack a spice than have them all plus an intruding ma flavor.
In the end, I bought a bag of unground five spice (五香粉/wǔxiāngfěn) and handpicked out the anise and star anise, and then ground them one by one. So the only spice my bread lacked was clove. ^_^ Also, I meant to buy an orange for the peel but didn't find it in the only market nearby. It was a pity as orange peel can greatly change the result.
Yields 1 loaf
1 1/2 cup (350 mL) honey
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (125g) whole-wheat flour (全麦面粉/quánmàimiànfěn)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (125g) rye flour (裸麦面粉/luǒmàimiànfěn)
2 Tbsp baking powder (泡打粉 pǎodǎfěn)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (肉桂/ròuguì)
1/2 tsp anise (茴香/huíxiāng)
1/4 tsp star anise (八角/bājiǎo)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (肉豆蔻/ròudòukòu)
1/4 tsp clove (丁香/dīngxiāng)
1/4 tsp ginger (姜/jiāng)
peel of 1 orange
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp (100 mL) milk
1. Grease the baking pan, and line in the baking paper. Mix the honey and dark brown sugar, heat it on low fire until it melts, for about 3 mins.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, spice and peel, make a well in the center, add the mixture of milk and egg.
3. Add the mixture of honey and dark brown sugar, mix everything into a balanced batter and pour it into the baking pan, which should fill 3/4 of the baking pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 mins at 220C in the preheated oven. (try 40 mins at 180C in the smaller oven) Because of the high sugar, it can be easily burnt, it's better to put a foil on the surface of the baking pan.When a metal stick comes out clean, it's done. Cool on the rack.
After a while the bread will become more moist and fragrant and the flavor is enhanced. It's better to cool it and wrap it with foil and leave it under room temperature for three days. Thought I doubt people would have this patience, haha.
I was skeptical about the temperature and time on the book, and indeed it was too much. My bread came out too hard and the sides were burnt, which depressed me for a while since I seldom fail at making quick bread. So, listen to your instincts and don't go only by the book! I think you might try 180C for 40 mins as well. (Although I kind of failed, please allow me to show the bread still.)
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.