I lost my mom in 2000. Lots of things that I see and do cause me to think of her but it is when I am baking that she is most often in the front of my mind. That's because I credit my mom for helping me to be fearless and willing to try all things baking. I was looking at a picture of a beautiful cake in a magazine many years ago. The cake was gorgeous as cakes in magazines often are. I commented that I would never to be able to make the cake and have it turn out like it was in the photo. My mom said why wouldn't my cake turn out like it was in the picture? The magazine gave instructions on how to do it; it's called a recipe. Mom said, "You can read. If you can read, you can bake. If you can read, you can cook. If you can read, you can do anything." Mom's point was this - don't give up before you even try. Of course, Mom was right. I've never forgotten that conversation. That is why when I read a recipe for, say, a really beautiful bread, I just CAN'T WAIT to get in the kitchen and give it a go. (Hint: just wait until you see the bread that is going to be the subject of my Christmas post!).
Anyway, one of my mom's most favorite things about fall was the appearance of cranberries in the market. To this day, when I first see cranberries, I hear Mom saying, "Oh look, Gloria! Cranberries! Quick, go get some oranges!" And that is what I do. When I get home, the first thing I do after putting away the groceries is make a batch of cranberry relish with those cranberries and oranges. This is the simplest of recipes with only three ingredients - cranberries, oranges, and sugar. Because of this relish which I have eaten every fall for as long as I can remember, I love the cranberry/orange flavor combination. If you like the cranberry/orange combo too then you will really enjoy Cranberry Orange Tea Loaf. (This recipe appears in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook.)
Cranberry Orange Tea Loaf is a quick bread so it comes together in a flash. For this recipe, you will need AP flour, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sour cream, a large egg, the zest and juice of one orange and dried cranberries.
Before we put the batter together, I wanted to mention a neat little gadget that I received as a gift from a friend a couple of years ago - the zest nest. The zest nest is an oval microplane with an enclosed rounded cup attached to the back. As you zest your citrus, the zest collects in the cup. When you are ready to add the zest to your recipe, just flip the cup off and easily scoop out your zest. Okay, back to the batter.
As with most quick breads, the dry ingredients are whisked together in one bowl and the wet ingredients, including the orange zest and juice, are mixed together in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients and stir together to combine. Add in your cranberries, stir, and pour the batter into a prepared 9 x 5 loaf pan. (Remember, your pan should be prepared before you mix your batter. Grease, line with parchment, and grease the parchment.)
Bake your loaf in a preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour. A tester (read toothpick) should come out clean and the bread should start to pull away from the sides of the loaf pan. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before lifting it out with the parchment. Cool your loaf on a rack. When the loaf is completely cool, wrap it up in plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight. This is for best results. If you absolutely can't wait to taste your bread, you should at least wait until it is cool before cutting it.
That is a lovely loaf of Cranberry Orange Tea Bread. Here's to you, Mom. I wish you were here to share a slice of bread and a cup of tea with me. I love you and I miss you. And I thank you.