My dear, poor, non French people,
Remember the good old time when you spent hours next to the mailbox (the real one, not you average hotmail-yahoo-gmail electronic version) waiting for a letter of your dear chéri? And then reading it again and again trying to figure out what he actually meant by “I like soccer and you too“?
Where are all those letters now?
I wonder how kids today will have a reminder of their first love letters…
That’s what I thought a few months ago when I was sorting out old drawers at my mother’s house. All those silly post cards and pink note-letters suddenly confronted me to the funny, romantic, and a little bit too dreamy 10 year-old me.
And that’s when I found it. Written on a pink cardboard, with a very cautious hand.
My first recipe.
Pain d’épices (du cahier de Mamie)
I remember exactly when I wrote it. Another day of summer vacation. Sun, public swimming-pool, bike in the woods… and boredom. I was back at my grand-mother’s farm and didn’t know what to do.
She herself was more than busy as usual, in between the garden and the hens and the rabbits and the dinner to prepare. “Why don’t you look in the recipe notebook and see what you can do?”
How I loved her recipe notebook!
She had started it during World War II, when she was just une jeune fille en fleurs, a 20 year old mademoiselle.
It was full of handwritten recipes copied from other friends notebooks, or cut out from the local newspaper.
That day I decided to start my own collection.
And copied her famous pain d’épice recipe.
Her gingerbread was awesome.
So so simple.
It’s basically milk and honey and flour and c’est tout (that’s all). Which makes it very very different from the anglo-saxon version of it.
No spices for a cake called “Spices bread” (pain d’épices)!
I know it’s strange, but who cares when it’s good!
She would bake one every wednesday, for me to have as a snack after the Ballet class. I would always share it with my friends, who loved it.
So much that 15 years later, when my friend Stéphanie called me to invite me to her wedding, she asked for just one gift: la recette du pain d’épice de mamie Laurence.
I still like to have it as a post work-out treat, but it’s also great for a winter breakfast.
Slice it and spread butter and you forget about cold feet and running nose!
- Put the milk (or the water, but really, milk is better) to a boil,
- And then mix it with honey and sugar.
- Add slowly the flour and the baking soda.
- Mix it well.
- Grease a pan in butter and pour the mix
- Bake for one hour at 200F
PS: I have to talk to you about my favorite processed pain d’épices: “Prosper” de Vandame.
I can still see my little brother spreading tons on Nutella on it for his “4 heures” (litteraly 4pm, the time French kids were supposed to have their afternoon snack).
And we loved their ad, a remake of a song of Maurice Chevalier, Prosper.