It is early evening. Did the Sun rise today? Or has it sunk into the horizon? …wonders my five year old. Everything outside is swathed in darkness. An eerie silence envelops the street that is largely deserted except for a lonesome vehicle that emerges out of gray fog and disappears into it not to be visible again. The sky looks red covered by sheets of fog that seems to be indicating another foggy day ahead. We feel the icy winds on our face as we brave the cold and bolt our gate. Little ones are astonished and thrilled at their breadth leaving a vaporous trail and they go on blowing “smoke” till we literally push them indoors after no amount of cajoling works.
It is a long night. We decide to get down to some collective cooking and baking and thus involve everyone. Having decided the chores, we start with Cranberry Orange Bread. The junior gets the task of breaking walnuts into small pieces. The daughter measures the flour and sugar. She loves this work and she tosses some sugar into her mouth by stealth. Walnuts keep disappearing till the little one is caught chomping. Laughter, blame game, some gleeful shouting ….and the bread is assembled and placed into the oven.
I have adapted the recipe from www.joyofbaking.com . I replaced egg with flax egg*
and used candied cranberries. Chopped dried figs will also taste good and can be used in place of cranberries. I used walnuts in lieu of pecan nuts. The bread turned out moist and flavourful. It is orangy and Christmassy and compliments the festive spirit
Cranberry Orange Bread (Egg less)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ stick (¼ cup) cold butter cut into small pieces
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries or chopped figs
½ cup walnuts
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup fresh orange juice
Finely grated zest of two oranges
1 flax egg *
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
*to make one flax egg take 3 tablespoons water in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of raw flax meal. Whisk with a fork. Refrigerate. This step is important. Refrigerate for about an hour. This gives it the consistency of an egg white. Add it to the recipe. It acts as a binder and makes the bread soft.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the bottom and sides of one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch bread pan.
Place walnuts in the tray, set oven temperature to 100 degrees. Bake for 10minutes or till the walnuts are toasted and a sweet aroma emanates.
In a bowl, combine flax egg with orange juice and vanilla essence.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and orange zest. Add pieces of cold butter. Blend it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, two knives or with your hands till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well till well combined. Fold in walnuts and cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, level with a spoon. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool. Slice next day.