Thursday, January 7, 2021

Golden Year: Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread

Happy New Year, friends. I hope your 2021 is off to a smooth start. After the shit show of 2020 I think we're all holding our breath just a little, unsure of what this bright and shiny new year has in store for us. Fingers are crossed that it will be a golden year, but honestly, you never really know. Rather than leap ahead into Maybe Land, I'm trying to enjoy the present moments as much as possible. We got a new TV for Christmas - one that conjures up Netflix and Amazon with just the press of a button. I really love good tv, hence I've watched a lot of it this fall and winter. I even posted my favourites on my Christmas card this year, with Fleabag, Ozark and Fargo in the top three. After discovering that Golden Girls (the entire series!) is on Amazon, there is no way I'll be leaving my house unless absolutely necessary. Oh wait. There's a pandemic happening. This is what I'm supposed to be doing! I love Bea Arthur so much. When I was a kid, I would stay up late and watch reruns of Maude. Maude was strong and funny and didn't take any crap from anyone. A good role model for a 12 year old girl if I do say so myself. Same with Dorothy. Her dry wit and sharp tongue make me laugh, all these year later. Right now I think we need all of the GG we can get. 

This will be a big year for me. My next cookbook Vegetables: A Love Story will be released into the world later this year, and I can't wait for you to see it. Honestly, the recipes are so good, and I want to share them all with you now, but I can't! It's like I'm holding a secret and at any moment I want to blurt it out. Being a secret keeper is hard work! What I can share with you is a recipe from my first cookbook, All the Sweet Things, that I always make around this time of year. Sometimes if before Christmas and sometimes it's after - depending on whether or not I need to use up a bag of cranberries. This is a quick bread I wooed Dixon with some five years ago, when we had just began to orbit one another at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market. Details of that initial meeting and first date are in the new book, and I can't wait for you to read it. 

Everyone who tasted a corner of this bread while I was testing the recipe hunted 
me down afterwards and asked what in the world was in it. When I said cream cheese,
all was clear. Cream cheese works magic in baked goods, adding fat and moisture 
as well as that signature bit of tang. Combined with cranberries and a pretty orange 
glaze, this bread is wonderful to serve over the holidays and makes a delicious 
edible gift. It's also delicious in January, when you need a little something sweet to chase away the winter blahs. And it's a great way to use up that half a bag of fresh cranberries 
that are getting a little soft. The sweet orange glaze not only looks attractive, but also camouflages any parts that may get overly brown. I prefer this bread the next day, after the flavours have melded and mingled, and it goes just smashingly with a cup of tea. 
I get a little annoyed in January at all of the targeted ads for a detox or cleanse or other such nonsense suggesting that I'm not good enough just the way I am right now. Truth is, my eating patterns don't really change much from month to month. Plenty of veg, obviously, and a variety of proteins go into my belly, as well an assortment of carbs. I shall never give up the carb. The only thing that may be different is that I'm not chomping down on Toblerone for breakfast like I was a month ago. Only because the Toblerone is all gone. I eat what I want when I want, and just because the calendar flips over doesn't change anything. 

Orange-Glazed Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread

1 cup unsalted butter, softened,
plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
11/4 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line a 9×5×3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper overhanging the edge. Lightly butter the paper.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the orange zest. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly mix the flour mix into the batter until just combined. Fold in the cranberries by hand.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 75-90 minutes. The bread will likely get quite brown, so cover it with aluminum foil at the 50-minute mark, or sooner if you notice it getting dark. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is puffed and golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely on the rack before glazing.
4.To make the orange glaze, whisk together the icing sugar, orange juice and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Slowly drizzle the glaze over the bread and let it firm up before slicing.
5.The cranberry orange bread keeps well refrigerated for up to 4 days when wrapped in plastic or in a resealable plastic bag. You can also freeze it without the glaze for up to 2 months. Makes 1 loaf. Recipe from All the Sweet Things by RenĂ©e Kohlman (TouchWood Editions, 2017). 

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