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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Orange Nut Bread

Or, is my breakfast dilemma finally solved?

Ever since Safeway and Andronico's both decided that Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits or sausage-and-egg biscuits were too downhome for Berkeley, I've been scrambling (ha ha) for breakfast options. It must have protein and it must be freezable and portable. Although I would prefer that it be somewhat healthy; for a while I had been eating bacon-and-egg breakfast burritos from the frozen section and my cholesterol shot through the roof. (Which also cuts McDonald's out as a regular option - their sausage and egg bikkies have a LOT more calories and fat than Jimmy Dean's did.)

I also learned that I function a lot better on a good breakfast (in other words, I am not a low-blood-sugar bitch to my co-workers).

I made raspberry-lemon muffins throughout the summer (leave in the freezer at work, take 3 out a day) but had to stop when I got ill and raspberries got expensive.

I ordered Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook, looking for winter-fruit muffins, and found it good. The applesauce muffins were good. The pear muffins were sticky but good. So those were an option if I got busy enough to make them.

A couple of weeks ago I had a notion to make sour cream coffee cake. I started leafing through my cookbooks. The Muffins book has some quick breads and coffee cakes. It did not have sour cream-walnut but it had an interesting looking orange-nut. It was fairly low fat too - 2 eggs, only 2 oz butter, and no milk or oil. (not counting the nuts of course). I added cranberries and it was a smash success. It also seemed easier to manage than muffins for some reason.

I've made the bread since with strawberries and it was also very good, and still easy. So it's one for the repertory. Here goes:

Orange Nut Bread
Beth Hensperger, with variations by Charlotte

325 oven, 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 pan (Measure!). Preheat oven, put 2 large eggs out to come to room temp, melt 2 oz (1/2 cube) unsalted butter, and butter or spray pan.

In a bowl, mix:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1 (var. 2) orange (microplane graters rool)
3/4 cup or more of chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts

until evenly distributed.

[If you wish fruit - add chopped rhubarb, cranberries, strawberries, or whole blueberries here.]

Mix liquid ingredients together (I use the Pyrex cup I juice the orange into):

3/4 cup fresh (strained) orange juice (n.b. 1 large orange is about 1/2 cup, you can make the rest up with milk or cream)
the 2 oz melted butter
the two large eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) essence.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and fold the liquid in till batter is smooth.

spoon into prepared pan and bake 50-60 mins, till loaf pulls away from sides and the top is browned and firm. (a skewer should come out clean). Cool on a wire rack in pan for 10 min, then remove and cool fully.

The other Breakfast Discovery is Ore-Ida "Potatoes O'Brien" - I cook a small amount at a time and mix with scrambled eggs, beans, salsa for Breakfast Burrito (occasionally without tortilla). This can be done ahead and containerized, and is especially good with the canned spiced pinquito beans.

I have started eating yogurt again due to the mention of "Greek yogurt" at Trader Joe's; it's awesome with fruit and lavendar honey but it's a bit too much work for a weekday breakfast for me, at least till I get better at night-before prep. Has been a good snack on weekends though.

I still love sausage and egg biscuits (don't laugh, I lost twenty pounds in six months on a regime that was either those or oatmeal for my breakfast) but at least I am now freed from the tyranny of the buyers.

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