Christmas breads with interesting histories

  • By Judyrae Kruse, Herald Columnist
  • Tuesday, February 2, 2010 8:11pm
  • Life

As promised in the Feb. 1 Forum column, today we’re going to revisit two special Christmas breads.

The first, which appeared in the Dec. 18, 2009, Forum, is for a cranberry-orange-pecan concoction, the original creation of Everett cook Lavon Woodey.

“It’s great to serve or wrap in plastic wrap with a bow for a gift,’’ she told us, adding, “I’ve used it for many holiday coffees.’’

The second recipe dates way back to 1924, when it first appeared in the “Fruit and Flower Mission Cook Book,’’ which sold for $2, and was issued as a fundraiser by an organization of women volunteers, to augment the group’s funds used to give aid to ill-nourished Seattle people.

Happily, we know these interesting historical bits (and many more, too) because Sally Gene Mahoney of Edmonds told us so in the Feb. 1 Forum, and she knows them because her mother, Alice Kennedy Mahoney, served as the editor of the book.

We also know this bread (originally titled “Orange Bread’’ and contributed by a Mrs. Walter Lyle McCallum) was not only popular at that time, but is just as people-pleasing today as it was then, and will surely be joining Lavon’s bread at the top of our must-make lists.

We now know that because our first look at it was in the Jan. 4 Forum, wherein Stanwood cook Laura Lewis said she’d made Lavon’s bread and, “Boy, is it good,’’ going on to say that she’d previously made her mother’s fruit bread, the aforementioned orange bread, taken from that very same publication.

“My recipe is one of my mother’s staples at Christmas,’’ she said, “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. 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.’’

The recipe calls for either candied orange peel or glace fruit mix, and Laura said, “Glace fruit mix containers at the grocery store usually contain 2 cups, so I always double the recipe. Also, I often substitute 1/4 cup dry milk powder and 1 cup water for the 1 cup milk.

“I have also made this as a nut bread, omitting the fruit and adding 1 cup chopped nuts.’’

Now, before your drool your whiskers off, here’s the how-to for:

Fresh cranberry orange pecan bread

1cup chopped cranberries

1tablespoon grated fresh orange peel

2tablespoons sugar

2cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, undiluted

1/3 cup oil

1egg, beaten

1/2cup water

1cup 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 medium 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 the topping, cover with the remaining batter and bake as directed.

Topping: In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons flour; cut in 2 tablespoons butter until mixture is crumbly. Makes enough for one 5-by-9-inch loaf. Double topping ingredients if making 3 smaller loaves.

Mom’s fruit bread

2cups flour

1cup sugar

2teaspoons baking powder

1/4teaspoon salt

1can candied orange peel or 1 cup glace fruit mix

1cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (optional)

1cup milk


In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients; add 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-by-9-inch loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees 50 to 60 minutes.

The next Forum will appear in Friday’s comics pages.

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