Easy-peasy Pain d’épi

Pain d’épi is a baguette made to look like a stalk of wheat. Since this French bread looks super fancy, naturally I thought it must be difficult to make.

But I learned that you can make this beautiful loaf quickly and easily using canned dough – who knew?

You will need

  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • glass pie plate
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • scissors
  • a sprinkle of flour
  • 1 can of dough, like the one pictured below:

Pillsbury French Bread can of dough

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350°F
  • Put a glass pie plate filled with warm water on the bottom rack of the oven (the steam will help create a nice crust)
  • Place the dough from the can on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Sprinkle a little flour on the dough and lightly flatten

Cutting technique

At about a 30° angle, cut the dough to make a “leaf” then move it to one side:

Make another cut, then move it to the opposite side:

Repeat, alternating sides until the whole loaf looks like this:

Bake at 350°F for 24 minutes.

Voilà! Easy-peasy Pain d’épi!

Serve with butter or jam or enjoy as-is: nice and warm! Bon appétit! 🥖

6 Creative Ways to Get Your Vietnamese-Style Coffee Fix

Vietnamese Iced Coffee is brewed using a filter called a phin

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 1850s. Today, the Southeast Asian country is the world’s second largest producer of coffee, after Brazil and ahead of Colombia, according to World Atlas.

I love good coffee, and when I want a strong, but sweet cup of joe, I’ll drink a Vietnamese iced coffee. It’s made with strong, dark roast coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and served with ice. (Or skip the ice and enjoy it hot!)

You can find it at Vietnamese restaurants or you can make it at home.

Since I don’t go to restaurants often and I don’t have a phin, the special metal coffee filter used to brew Vietnamese coffee, I’ve learned to get creative!

When a craving strikes, I’ll either go to a coffee shop and order Vietnamese-style coffee or I’ll try to make it at home.

For example:

  • Peet’s Coffee offers a drink they call a Black Tie, which is a cold brew beverage inspired by Vietnamese and New Orleans coffee
  • The website, Hack the Menu, claims that there’s a “secret menu” drink at Starbucks called Liquid Cocaine, which includes four shots of espresso

PSA: While I appreciate the hyperbole in its provocative name suggesting that a drink with a quad-shot of espresso is akin to cocaine, I want to be clear: I don’t advocate cocaine! (Say nope to dope, kids!)

In fact, I’ve even modified the Starbucks “hack” to cut back on the drug that is caffeine!

When I have a hankering for a Vietnamese-style iced coffee, I order two shots (not four) with three pumps of white chocolate mocha sauce (not four), plus a splash of heavy cream over light ice:

Want this beverage, but not in the mood to leave the house? Here are a few ideas on how to make Vietnamese-style (iced or hot) coffee at home without the special filter (phin):

  • If you have a Nespresso machine at home, try their recipe for iced coffee that they call by its Vietnamese name, Cà Phê Sữa Đá
  • If you have a Keurig brewing system, use a K-Cup with dark roast coffee, like Café du Monde (or fill a reusable K-Cup with your favorite dark roast coffee)
  • You could also use a pre-made cold brew coffee from the grocery store and add it to a glass filled with ice and sweetened condensed milk

OR…you can make a reservation at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant and enjoy one of these with your meal:

Brewed coffee and sweetened condensed milk poured over ice

Got any coffee hacks you’d like to share? Tell me in the comments below! ☕️

If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in my other posts about coffee, like:

SBUX @ CDG Paris Airport

Taking a Load Off at Laundré in San Francisco

Visiting Seattle: Original Starbucks

I Made an Apple Cranberry Flaugnarde with Crème Fraîche

One summer, I went to a pick-your-own-fruit farm with my family. We had brought home a bag full of cherries so I decided to make a dessert out of them.

I made a Cherry Clafoutis, the simple yet elegant dessert that’s originally from the Limousin region (now part of Nouvelle Aquitaine) in central France. It was easy to make and I liked how it turned out.

Now that it’s fall, I wanted to make the dessert with Granny Smith apples and fresh cranberries.

But then I learned that technically it wouldn’t be a clafoutis (also spelled clafouti) simply because there wouldn’t be cherries in it.

What’s a flaugnarde?

When using fruit other than cherries, this flan-cake is called a flaugnarde (sounds like “flon-yard”)!

This is how I made an Apple Cranberry Flaugnarde with Crème Fraîche!

You will need:

  • 9-inch glass pie pan
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1/2 of an apple, sliced
  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries, whole or sliced in half
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 2/3 cup of crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preparation:

  • Heat the oven to 350°F
  • Butter the pie pan and sprinkle granulated sugar on the butter
  • Add the sliced fruit to pan, then set it aside
  • In one bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt)
  • In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients (eggs, crème fraîche, milk, vanilla extract)
  • Whisk the dry ingredients, while slowly adding in the wet ingredients. Mix well. The consistency should be like pancake batter
  • Pour the mixture over the fruit in the pie pan
  • Bake it for 40-45 minutes

As it bakes, it poofs up! But it will slowly deflate as it cools.

it looks like pizza

Before serving, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top:

Like quiche, this dessert can be served warm or cold. It’ll add a simple yet elegant French touch to any holiday feast! Bon appétit!

Tell me in the comments below: what’s your favorite dessert to make?