I love reading cookbooks–I guess it’s my way of trying to taste everything in the world. Last night I was browsing through a cookbook from the “Telephone Pioneers of America, C.P. Wainman Chapter #18, the Minnesota and North Dakota Chapter.” I came across a recipe called “Rae’s Orange Bread” and ten minutes later I was in the kitchen getting my pots and pans and measuring spoons out. Rae’s bread contains one orange, and not much else, just sugar, an egg, milk and flour. Suddenly I realized I only had buttermilk, not milk, but I like using buttermilk in baking, because it tenderizes so I went ahead. I also wanted to use the rest of the orange in the bread, if possible, decided to add vanilla, changed the pan size–now it’s Fran’s Fresh Orange Bread!
Fresh Orange Bread
Wash a medium-size orange thoroughly, and peel. Slice the peel into long strips, and then chop finely. Put the chopped peel into a saucepan with 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water. Boil for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside. Mix 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and stir into orange peel mixture. Measure 3 cups of flour into a bowl, add 4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a nice large spoon, pour the orange peel mixture into the flour and stir. Stir only until moistened–a few streaks of flour are ok. Pour into a greased and floured Pyrex loaf pan (8-1/2 x 4-1/2″). Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. The bottom of the loaf should be golden.
Squeeze the juice from the peeled orange and mix with 1 tablespoon sugar. Poke the still warm bread with a skewer, and slowly pour the juice over the bread.
So how does it taste? The current verbal cliche is OMG, and I have to say, it’s OMG. It’s suffused with the flavor of fresh orange, plus an almost buttery flavor from the buttermilk. The texture is tender but almost chewy, and there are delicious little nubbins of candied orange peel. It’s wonderful toasted with a cup of tea, and would be perfect for a picnic lunch.