Friday, November 14, 2008

(Blood) Orange Bread

I mentioned in my banana bread post that I once developed a theory: the difference between most quickbreads is little more than the types of pulp and spices used. It got me thinking back to a recipe that I picked up at cooking school: a Spanish orange cake. It was an oddity, to be sure. It called for two whole oranges, pulp and all, pureed. It also called for olive oil. When my classmates made it in school, they used straight extra virgin olive oil. It was too rich to eat. When we made it at my externship, we only had a blend of canola and extra virgin olive oil available, and the resulting cake was excellent.

I did not use that recipe as a reference for this. I decided to go with my pumpkin bread recipe, and modify it to include oranges instead of pumpkin. My original plan was to use blood oranges, with white chocolate chips folded in. This idea happened when I found blood oranges at the grocery store by my work. Unfortunately, when I actually got around to making it, I couldn't find them at any stores by my house. So I went with regular oranges for the first run, and decided to drop the white chocolate chips and play with the spices.

I thought about using cinnamon, but I decided to go with ground cloves instead. I even bumped it up a little, to make it a little more Christmassy. That wasn't bad, but I thought it was maybe just a little too strong. I went with a full teaspoon this time, but next time I make regular orange bread, I think I'll scale it back to 3/4 of a teaspoon.

I measured the ingredients by weight this time (except for those things measured with spoons), and I discovered that two oranges was just shy of a pound. I like nice round numbers, so I added another half an orange, which brought me up over a pound. It's worth noting that the batter was a lot more liquid than I'm used to with quickbread. It's also worth noting that my bread was more dense and flat than I'm used to. But this may also have had to do with leavening.

I considered the difference between baking powder and baking soda: (single-acting) baking powder is little more than baking soda plus powdered acid. Since oranges have plenty of acid, I thought that baking soda might be enough. Clearly, it was not. Granted, the excess moisture probably didn't help things either, but I figured next time around I needed to add some baking powder.

I added a little fresh ginger, just to see if it did anything for me. I didn't even taste it afterwards. I also dropped the sugar content, to keep the bread from being too sweet. The batter tasted nice to me, but the first slice of bread once it was baked tasted just a little too bitter. Some of my coworkers liked it like that, and some thought it could use a touch more sugar. At least a couple of coworkers compared it to marmalade, which I thought was pretty accurate. I thought about calling it marmalade bread, but thought that it might scare off people.

This evening, I was able to attempt my bread again, this time with adjustments to compensate for last time's failings. I also had blood oranges on hand, so I decided to use white chocolate chips again. I guess I'd better go ahead and give you the ingredients:

Ingredients#1 by volume#1 by weight#2 by volume#2 by weight
oven temp350F350F350F350F
bake time60 min60 min60 min60 min
ap flour3 cups13.2 oz3 cups13.2 oz
salt1 tsp1 tsp1 tsp1 tsp
baking soda2 tsp2 tsp2 tsp2 tsp
baking powder  2 tsp2 tsp
brown sugar1 1/2 cups11.65 oz  
white sugar  1 3/4 cups13.55 oz
oranges2 1/2 ea17.5 oz  
blood oranges  3 ea14.15 oz
butter1 cup8 oz1 cup8 oz
eggs4 ea4 ea4 ea4 ea
ground cloves1 tsp1 tsp1/2 tsp1/2 tsp
cinnamon  1 tsp1 tsp
fresh ginger1/2 tsp1/2 tsp  
mixing methodmuffinmuffinmuffinmuffin

I have listed the recipes both by volume and by weight. For those that think that measuring by weight is for chumps, I'd like to point you to the oranges. The regular oranges that I used were bigger than the blood oranges, as you can see by looking at the weight. Had I gone with just two blood oranges, I would have been pretty far off.

I upped the sugar just a little bit, and switched from brown sugar to white sugar. The sweetness with this bread was exactly where I wanted it. It was definitely orange bread, but it was also definitely not marmalade bread. I kept the baking soda the same, but then added in an equal amount of baking powder. Most baking powder these days is double-acting, meaning it rises once when it gets wet, and a second time in the oven when it gets hot.

The inside of the blood orange bread was surprisingly lighter in color than the inside of the regular orange bread. I'm guessing this is at least partly because of the sugar switch. As far as spices are concerned, I decreased the cloves, and added in cinnamon. I think that was the right choice. It was definitely more balanced than before, it worked out well.

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