One of my little Christmas traditions is to rise early the morning after we have put up the Christmas tree, put the tree lights on, but no others, make an early pot of coffee and sit with a cup and just ... be ... still...
I love to sit and look at the beauty of the tree and the colors. Every year the tree is just a bit different from all the others of years gone by. Maybe it's a different tree variety or a different shape from the previous trees. Maybe I've chosen different sets of ornaments to place on its branches, or used more or less tinsel. Maybe the lights are all colored or all white or a combination of the two. Whatever the changes, I always feel my heart swell up a bit and any Grinchy feelings about the hustle-bustle of the season disappear in that quiet time.
Yesterday, while I was poking lights into place and unpacking ornaments, I put together an easy quick bread for this morning's second cup of coffee. This bread is such a nice reminder of times gone by when baking at Christmastime incorporated 'dear' ingredients that made the baked gift all the more special. Whenever I find oranges in recipes at this time of year, I always think about the exotic orange found at the bottom of the Christmas stocking, the gorgeous box of oranges, lemons, guavas, and grapefruit that my grandparents sent to us at Christmastime, and how children long ago would marvel at the strange and 'dear' fruit treat offered as a dessert after the Christmas feast.
Incorporate the 'crown' concept and the idea of the gift is brought to a spiritual level. It fits perfectly with this season of Advent. The bread could easily be made in a conventional bread pan, but putting it in a small round souffle pan makes for a high rise that does resemble a king's crown and the golden color of the bread adds to the idea. It's a beautiful reminder of the season - an easy, old-fashioned quick bread that is delicious with a smear of lightly spiced honey butter. I hope you enjoy it!
King’s Crown Coffee Bread
2 ½ c. flour½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 c. orange blossom honey
2 tbsp. butter, softened
1 large egg
¾ c. pulpy orange juice
Zest of one lemon
¾ c. walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. honey
One small pinch cinnamon
Beat the butter, honey and cinnamon together until completely incorporated. Mound in a small bowl and let set. Smear on warm coffee bread or toast.
- Pre-heat the oven to 325°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a small round and deep casserole or soufflé pan that is about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Line the bottom and sides with waxed paper and grease that as well (I use pan spray).
- Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside.
- Cream the butter, honey and egg together in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the zest and mix well.
- Alternately, add the flour mixture and the orange juice, mixing well between additions and ending with the last of the orange juice.
- Fold in all but a handful of the larger pieces of the walnuts.
- Carefully, turn the batter into the prepared pan, being sure not to dislodge the waxed paper from the pan sides.
- Smooth the top of the batter and make a crown of walnuts around the outer rim of the batter, pressing the nuts very gently into the batter so they stay put when baked.
- Bake the coffee bread for one hour in the middle of the prepared oven, covering the top loosely with foil when the top has browned lightly.
- The coffee bread is done when a cake tester comes clean. Remove from the pan after letting the bread cool for ten minutes on the counter.
- Place the bread on a pretty platter and gently pull loose the waxed paper.
- Serve warm with honey butter for spreading on the slices.
Making the butter is totally worth it ... just sayin'
Warming the bread slice makes it a perfect coffee treat ...