I’ve always been intrigued with this French snacking cake and its exotic perfume of anise and honey. I’d never been moved to make it, however, until I recently made a new friend who drew me into a conversation about her childhood in France. She grew up eating thick slabs of this bread covered with butter. I woke up the next morning to a recipe in my inbox. Here, I played with it a little and swapped out whole wheat and rye for the all purpose. The whole grain flours enhance the spicy flavors to new heights.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch (1 lb.) loaf pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, prepare the dry ingredients by sifting together the whole wheat pastry flour, rye flour, baking powder, anise seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, and salt. Keep the mixture nearby while you prepare the wet ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and honey until combined. Mix in the room temperature milk, the zests, and the eggs. Whisk until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold to combine well.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake starts to pull away from the sides. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for about an hour. Turn the pan over and pop the loaf out.
My French friend tells me that growing up, she used to eat this slathered with butter, and I just can’t think of anything better. Except maybe to eat it still a little warm and piled high with sweetened crème fraîche. It probably won’t last long, but just in case your crew has more self-control than mine, it will store at room temperature for a few days. Or you could wrap it well and store it in the freezer for up to a month.
Savor with the delight and gratitude of making new friends and swapping childhood recipes that carry the memories of our hearts into bright new kitchens and onwards we continue to taste the world around us.