Advent Calendar Activity :: Day 12

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Bake bread – one loaf to give to the neighbors and one loaf to keep.

A few weeks ago, representatives from King Arthur Flour went to our elementary school and taught the fourth and fifth graders to bake bread as part of their Life Skills Bread Baking Program. They sent the kids home with recipes and ingredients, and gave them an assignment to bake bread to donate to a school bake sale. My kids really enjoyed the assignment, and it was great to work on it with them. I thought it would be fun to do it again, for Advent, to keep their interest up, and also as a fun thing to give to the neighbors. We used the easy Life Skills Bread recipe from the King Arthur website.

I never baked bread until my twenties, and once I learned how, I did it often. But it’s probably been four years since I’ve baked a loaf of bread from scratch. It felt really good to do it again, especially with my kids. I know bread is kind of out-of-fashion these days, but baking it just feels so elemental – I love the physicality and rhythm of it.

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And of course eating a fresh, warm slice with butter and a cup of hot tea is perfection.

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baked :: Vegan Cranberry-Orange Bread

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If you’re looking for a way to use up cranberries left over from Thanksgiving, I can’t recommend this quick bread highly enough. I made a loaf for company on Thanksgiving morning and it was gone in a flash. I still had enough cranberries in the fridge to make another loaf this morning.

This is my adaptation of a recipe from Veganomicon, which was most likely adapted from an old Fannie Farmer recipe. I used to make muffins quite similar to this, and this recipe could easily be made as muffins (with a much shorter baking time at a higher temp – 18-20 minutes at 400; I always dusted mine with powdered sugar once they were cool). I replaced the soy milk from the Veganomicon recipe with more orange juice, primarily because we had a guest with a nut allergy who also stays away from soy products (often made on equipment also used for nuts). I don’t eat soy either, except occasionally in tempeh form. Ordinarily I substitute almond milk for soy in all recipes, but this time I didn’t because of the nut allergy. I liked the extra orange-y flavor of using more oj instead, so I am going to make it this way from now on.

Vegan Cranberry-Orange Bread
3/4 C orange juice
1/4 C canola oil
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground allspice
1 T grated orange zest
1 1/2 C fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the orange juice, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. Mix until smooth – batter will be quite thick.

Fold in orange zest and cranberries, and pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let bread cool in loaf pan for about 15 minutes. Release onto cooling rack, turn right side up, let cool a bit more, then slice and eat.

(The original recipe calls for 1/2 C chopped walnuts, which I omitted because of the nut allergy. My kids also don’t care for nuts, but on today’s batch I added a few to one half of the loaf after I had poured the batter in.)

This is such an easy and delicious recipe – the only hard part is waiting for it to bake and cool!