That first spritz of orange, the citrusy scent blended with the warm scent of cinnamon and the house finally smells like the holidays. As a Florida girl who grew up a stone’s throw, just a hop over the river from the orange groves, winter has always meant oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. Even in Europe. As soon as the summer’s berries and stone fruit disappear, leaving only faded imitations of themselves behind, when apples and pears pile up golden green just begging for my attention, I begin the impatient wait. To citrus.
The holiday spirit has invaded Nantes if ever so discreetly, so very French. The lights are already hung from lamppost to lamppost, shop windows have already begun adding to the display with shows of elves and polar bears, lush wreathes and bright garlands, trees green and beribboned or merely the suggestion of trees in white lights. I love the holidays yet how I miss the vibrant, exciting, overdone American version of Christmas. Homes weighed down under too many colored lights, Santa in his sleigh, drawn by reindeer prancing across front lawns or perched precariously on rooftops. Over-the-top gaudiness, ostentatious beauty infuse every observer, whether celebrant or not, with an energy and enthusiasm strictly reserved for December.
Although the French holiday spirit is one of understated elegance, I still feel the festive rush and make the best attempt possible to inject a little of that good old fashioned joviality and merriness into our home. In the best of times, we don’t really decorate, and now with the house still in moving/renovation limbo, I’ll be lucky if I can dig out my Hanukkah candles and set up the Menorah on our buffet.
But one thing is for sure, the holidays see bottles of Champagne cross our threshold; glasses of Champagne replace the usual wine at our festivities and elegant yet simple holiday smorgasbord. Splashes of Grand Marnier and Cointreau, a heady kick of rum or a vibrant infusion of Cognac feature in so many recipes. Chocolate and chestnut desserts put on a festive appearance infused as they now are with the joviality, the sophisticated charm of booze. And citrus. Ah, citrus, my winter fetish… goes oh-so adult with the joyful addition of Cointreau or Limoncello. Which is why Lora, Barb and I decided that December’s Twelve Loaves bread would be infused with booze.*
My choice? A quick bread. Orange, of course, a salute to the season. Orange blended with Cointreau, just enough to give the bright citrus flavor an underlying hint of warmth and earthiness. A beautiful cake, moist yet light, just that much less frivolous, a deep rich flavor lending gentleness to the perfect bread for breakfast, brunch or snack, a perfect holiday treat. Adapted from a recipe for Lemon Quick Bread from Taste of Home Baking, I knew that this simple yet luscious cake would look just perfect all dressed up in orange and Cointreau.
Now, you can bake along for Twelve Loaves December challenge. You know the rules, roll up your sleeves and start kneading or stirring… bake a bread from scratch, yeast or quick, muffins, scones, focaccia or anything similar, anything that can be called bread, and just add your favourite alcohol to the batter, the icing or the end result. Post on your blog linking back to our three blogs, mentioning Twelve Loaves and the December challenge (linking back to this post), then add your blog link to the linky tool at the end of one of our blogs to be included in our Boozy Holiday Roundup.
* If you do not want to add alcohol to your baked good, it can be replaced with extract or juice.
Want more delightful boozy treats for your holiday season?
Orange Cointreau Brownie Tiramisu
Christmas Cookie Tree with Mascarpone Limoncello Cream
Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier Madeleines
Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake
GLAZED ORANGE COINTREAU QUICK BREAD
Just a little bit boozy for the holidays!
½ cup (115 g) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier (or can be replaced by 1 Tbs more orange juice)
½ tsp Nielsen-Massey orange extract, optional
1 Tbs finely grated orange zest (from an untreated or organic orange)
1 ½ cups (about 200 g) flour, lightly spooned in measuring cup and levelled
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup (125 ml) milk (I used 2% fat/lowfat)
½ cup (62 g) confectioner’s/powdered sugar
1 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbs Cointreau or Grand Marnier (or can be replaced with 1 Tbs more orange juice)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a loaf pan, either 8 x 4-inch or 9 x 5-inch) and either line the bottom with parchment paper or dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugar until blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, just to blend. Beat in the orange juice, the Cointreau, the extract if using and the orange zest.
Stir together the flour, the baking powder and the salt in a small bowl; beat in the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with dry, beating well after each addition.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the bread is risen, the top golden brown and the center set; a tester inserted near the center of the bread should come out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl and add the juice and the Cointreau. Stir until you have a very smooth silky glaze. Slide along thin knife blade around the edges of the cake to loosen and spoon and spread the glaze evenly all over the hot cake, allowing some glaze to dribble down the sides.
Allow the cake to cool completely before turning out of the pan and serving.