Today was a double win in the kitchen. It’s my husband’s last day of teaching for the year and I wanted to bake him a celebratory sweet treat. I was also wanting to experiment with a holiday cake that would keep well as a gift to my family and friends. My family is partial to fruitcake and yule logs (buche de Noel). We’ve made many of them and I’ve posted recipes here and here.
As these things simmered in the back of my mind, fate intervened (as it often does) via an email. Christopher Kimball sent out his Milk Street magazine e-newsletter, which opened with notes from his recent Thailand trip and included a recipe for pain d’épice, a French spice cake. I looked at the recipe for the cake-cum-bread (think a forceful but not overly sweet gingerbread) and realized that if the Europeans had not ventured to Asia, they would not have obtained peppercorns, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and the like. The classic French cake benefited big time from the spice route.