Sunday Afternoon Gift Baking

A few weeks ago I ran across a recipe for Cranberry Walnut Bread in an online San Francisco Chronicle article and thought it would be the perfect thing to bake for office gifts.  So today, after going to the Farmers’ Market for my weekly fruit and veggie shopping, including oranges and walnuts for the bread, I put on some classical music and started gathering up my ingredients; fresh cranberries, oranges, buttermilk, wheat and unbleached flours, sugar, walnuts and spices. I chopped, measured and mixed and soon I had six little pans ready for the oven.

Thirty-five minutes later I had six beautiful little loaves of bread.

The only modifications I made were to add the zest from one orange and to use Turbanado raw sugar with the spices and nuts for the topping. I like the crunchy texture of the Turbanado sugar. The only thing I would do next time is add more chopped nuts to the topping mixture. I think it would look better.  For those of you who are, or have folks who are, allergic to walnuts I think pecans would be a terrific substitute.

The recipe easily made six mini loaves.

One of the comments on the Chronicle article said this bread was really nice toasted and buttered. Humm, I might just have to try some for breakfast tomorrow since I have one loaf that isn’t marked as a gift.

Did you bake or make gifts this year? If so, what did you make?


Slow Mornings

January 1, 2010. It’s a New Year, a new beginning.

What better way to celebrate than to enjoy a slow morning? A morning, where there isn’t a schedule, where we can just take our time and relax. Mornings like this are just made for French toast. Trou Pain Perdu is another one of those beloved recipes that I have made for at least 20 years. It’s easy, delicious, and definitely fits into a slow morning. So start a pot of coffee and put on some music and ease into the New Year. That’s what I’m going to do.


Serves 3 – 4

1 baguette sliced into 1-inch slices

1 ½ cups milk

4 eggs

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

Butter for sautéing

Set the slices of baguette into a 9 x 12-inch pan. Whisk together all the other ingredients until blended and pour over the bread, turning the slices to coat them thoroughly. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the butter in a large skillet. After it foams but before it browns, add the bread, turning when golden brown. If you like your French toast custardy, serve it now. If you prefer it a little drier, continue to cook longer. Serve with warmed maple syrup and fresh fruit and some bacon on the side. I can smell it cooking right now.

The original recipe comes from Morning Food, by Margaret S. Fox and John Bear, Ten Speed Press, 1990. 

What to buy at the Farmers’ Market: