Friday evening saw our annual Relief Society Christmas Party for the ladies in my church congregation. Happy to say everyone had a lovely time. We played games and made crafts, decorated cookies, ate some good food and basically just enjoyed a lovely evening of fellow-shipping with each other.
I had made a variety of sweet loaves, amongst other goodies, to share with the girls. Back home tea breads are always a welcome treat on one of these occasions. Not only are they easy to make, but they are also easy to transport and one of those things that actually taste better for having sat overnight, which makes them the perfect do-ahead item!
I made my perfectly lovely sweet Cinnamon Swirl Bread. You can read all about it and find that recipe here. It's an old favourite of mine, a recipe I gleaned from my old friend Leona many moons ago when our children were all small and we were a lot younger too! I never make it but what I don't think of her and some of the happy times we shared together.
I also made my favourite Sour Cream Banana Loaf. This is also an old favourite of mine. I used to have to bake at least one of these every week when I cooked at the Manor.
The Mr loved it toasted for breakfast, which was not an easy feat. It took me ages in the toaster oven to get it just the way he liked it . . . the edges crisp without being burnt and spread with lashings of butter. You can find that recipe here.
I also made this lovely Sour Cream Chocolate Loaf, which is a real personal favourite of mine. It's moist and fudgy . . . the sour cream and brown sugar in the batter doing their best work . . . with just a hint of instant coffee, which helps to highlight the rich chocolate flavour of this fabulous loaf. I often like to serve it with a sweetened orange cream cheese spread, which goes very well with this particular loaf.
*Sour Cream Chocolate Loaf*Makes one large loaf
Rich, moist and very chocolatey. A real long time favourite of mine.
6 TBS Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp instant coffee
6 ounces boiling water (3/4 cup)
115g of butter (1/2 cup)
300g of soft light brown sugar (1 1/2 cups packed)
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 medium free range eggs
200g of plain flour (2 cups)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
125ml of sour cream (1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F. gas mark 3. Butter a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan and line with baking paper.
Combine the water and coffee powder. Allow to cool. Stir in the sour cream. Whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, soda and salt.
Beat the butter together with the brown sugar. Beat in the vanilla paste and the eggs, one at a time. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet, beginning and ending with dry. Mix well together. Pour into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until risen and the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool ten minutes in the pan before tipping out to cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap tightly once cooled and let stand overnight before cutting.
Amazingly enough though, the real star of the evening was my Cranberry and Orange Loaf. This is a recipe I have had for yonks and yonks. Moist and fruity with just the merest hint of orange, this delightful loaf always goes down a real treat, plain or spread with softened butter.
I apologize up front for the lack of super fantastic photos! I didn't get many really before the light faded. But trust me when I say, this is the best sweet loaf every. I highly recommend!
*Cranberry and Orange Loaf*
Makes one 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf
I have been making this for years. It's an old standby that has never let me down.
200g plain flour (2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
190g sugar (1 cup)
the finely grated zest of 1 large orange
(Wash it well first)
1 cup of chopped cranberries
1 medium free range egg, beaten,
2 ounces melted butter (1/4 cup)
the juice from one large orange, plus water to make up 177ml (3/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf tin, shaking out any excess butter. Alternately line with baking paper, buttering both the tin and the paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the cranberries and orange zest. Whisk the egg, butter and orange/water together. Add all at once to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Scrape into your prepared loaf tin.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let stand in the pan for about 10 minutes before tipping out. Cool completely, then wrap and store for one full day before cutting.