My dad has a joke he makes whenever someone his age has a birthday: “Don’t buy any green bananas.”
I buy green bananas every week, but I’m only 41. The thing about buying green bananas is that eventually they become yellow bananas, perfect for snacking or slicing on to your yogurt and granola. And then those yellow bananas become speckled bananas, perfect for making banana bread.
Sometimes I wake up with a specific craving that has no obvious root. For example, on Saturday morning I woke up with a craving for cornbread. Where did that come from? Was it the fact that I’d been watching the Sean Brock episodes of “Mind of a Chef” at the gym? Actually, that was probably it–strike that first sentence–because in the episode I just watched, he harvested his own corn, shocked the kernels in liquid nitrogen, and made the most incredible-looking corn grits I’d ever seen. I didn’t have grits in my cupboard on Saturday morning, but I did have cornmeal, which is where this idea came from. Then all I had to do was find the right recipe.
On Thursday night, I did that very thing. I texted our friends who live in our building and said, “Hot dinner rolls and honey if you want right now!” It was a strange text, one that I thought might be met with radio silence. But one friend, our friend Rob, said “Yes!” and came over moments later to experience the best dinner rolls I’d ever made. And he was not disappointed.
Sometimes a recipe grabs my attention not because it sounds particularly delicious but because the method by which you make it is so peculiar, I just have to try it.
Such was the case with the recipe for Pain D’Epice in Canal House Cooking Volume 2. Other recipes for Pain D’Epice, a French spice bread, are packed with, well, spices. Nancy Silverton’s has fennel seeds, black pepper and lots of ginger; David Lebovitz’s has cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; the Canal House pain d’epice has no spices. It has marmalade.