Many of us look forward to the planning, making and baking of various goodies, not just for our own families and close friends, but for gift-giving for those other special people in our lives. You know the ones -- where a genuine "present'' present would be overboard, awkward and possibly totally inappropriate besides.
Just a small something, straight from your heart and your kitchen, too, for our favorite neighbors, hosts and hostesses, who rush to open the garden gate or fling open the door in welcome. The folks who go out of their way to do us a favor.
Two possibilities immediately come to mind. Both are among the most popular and most-requested holiday recipes in recent Forum history, and both most recently appeared together in a Nov. 15, 2010, Forum column.
The first is a fresh cranberry orange pecan bread, the creation of Everett cook Lavon Woodey.
She told us when she first shared the recipe, "It's great to serve or wrap in plastic with a bow for a gift. I've used it for many holiday coffees.''
A word to the wise on this particular bread, though: If you plan to make it throughout the year, be sure to lay in a supply of cranberries and freeze them, to hold you over until next season's cranberry harvest.
Next, a special fruit bread. When Laura Lewis of Stanwood first passed this along to us, she said she'd just made Lavon's bread and, "Boy, was it good.''
Until that time, she'd always made one that was the family tradition.
"My recipe is one of my mother's staples at Christmas,'' she told us, "from my childhood until she stopped baking when she was almost 90. Mother's is a light bread, very colorful with glace fruit, but not everyone likes the glace fruit. (Those of us who don't care for glace fruit can substitute orange peel.)
"She would slice the bread thinly, butter the slices and put them together as a sandwich, then cut them into triangles, three to a sandwich, and serve them as Christmas tea cakes or cookies.''
So, what will it be? The cranberry orange pecan bread or the fruit bread? Impossible to choose, we'd better make them both, and here's how:
Fresh cranberry orange pecan bread
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, undiluted
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
Topping (recipe follows)
In a small mixing bowl, combine the cranberries, orange peel and 2 tablespoons sugar; mix well and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, the 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking soda, mixing well. Add the orange juice concentrate, oil, egg, water and pecans and stir only to blend. Add the cranberry mixture and pour into a greased 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. Prepare topping and sprinkle over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf.
Note: If desired, recipe can be doubled to make 3 smaller loaves. Also, for a change, you can pour only half of the batter into the pan(s), sprinkle with topping, cover with the remaining batter and bake as directed.
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Makes enough for one 5-by-9-inch loaf. Double ingredients if making 3 smaller loaves.
Mom's fruit bread
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can candied orange peel or 1 cup glace fruit mix
1 cup chopped walnuts or other fruits (optional)
1 cup milk
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; add the candied orange peel or candied fruit and nuts and stir to coat the pieces. Combine the milk and egg and add to the dry ingredients. Beat vigorously until smooth, but do not overbeat. Pour into a greased 5-b-9-inch loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees 50 to 60 minutes.
The next Forum will appear in Friday's comics section.
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