Italian Easter Bread Wreath

Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.

As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!

Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. :/ Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf

For the Starter:

  • 120 g (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Dough:

  • 269 g (2 1/4 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 67 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional (I omitted it)
  • grated peel of 1 large orange

For the Glaze:

  • 113 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
  1. To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
  2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
  3. Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
  5. Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  6. Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
  7. Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
  8. To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
  9. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

I love a crispy pizzelle! I was first introduced to these traditional Italian cookies by a friend who made them every year for our kids’ preschool Christmas celebration. They were so pretty and delicious that I put a pizzelle iron on my holiday wishlist. 🙂 Eating them with ice cream made me understand why my husband loves waffle cones too. This is a wonderful version with subtle lemon flavor.

This special dessert recipe was adapted from a Food 52 community pick, contributed by Hilarybee. I used lemon extract but may try orange next time. I also increased the amount of Meyer lemon zest and added salt.

The original recipe also recommends serving them filled with pastry cream or mousse or sandwiched with a little bit of lemon curd. Yum!

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature (I place them in a bowl of warm water)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure orange or pure lemon extract
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  1. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. Note: The eggs must be at least room temperature; cold eggs will result in an unworkable batter.
  3. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed.
  4. Add the extracts followed by the zest.
  5. On low-speed, add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Alternate between medium and low-speed while beating in the flour. (I turn it to low while pouring in the flour; medium to incorporate the flour before adding more).
  6. The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff.
  7. Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter into the iron. The cookies take about 25-30 seconds in the iron.

Note: Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups. I shaped them into cups by placing a hot cookie on the base of a juice glass and then topped it with an inverted glass prep bowl. The cookies cool very quickly and maintain the shape.

Irish Soda Scones with Orange Glaze

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I like to try a new version of soda bread as part of our celebration. 🙂 This version was great- light and fluffy with sweetness from the glaze. Everyone really enjoyed them.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used raisins instead of currants, reduced the size and baking time, and made half of the batch with caraway seeds (for me) and half of the batch without seeds (kids!). We ate them for breakfast but they would be wonderful with a cup of afternoon tea as well.

Yield: 18 to 20 scones

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces; work into flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until dough resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add currants/raisins, caraway seeds, and buttermilk; stir until just combined.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake until bottoms are golden, about 12 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
  8. Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and orange zest. Drizzle over scones; serve.

One Year Ago: Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Two Years Ago: Irish Soda Bread Buns

Three Years Ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Pumpkin-Orange Bread

I have to make some sort of pumpkin bread in the fall. This orange variation sounded lovely and resulted in a moist and tender loaf. My family didn’t appreciate the pepita garnish on the top of the loaf, but I thought that it added a nice crunch and contrasting texture. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I incorporated whole wheat flour and baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan. Nice.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • grated orange zest from 1 large orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1/2 large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and nutmeg, 30 seconds.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together butter, pumpkin, eggs, orange zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Make a well in flour mixture and pour pumpkin mixture into it.
  5. Stir together just until combined and no dry flour remains (do not overmix).
  6. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle top evenly with pepitas, pressing lightly to adhere.
  7. Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes for a standard loaf or about 35 minutes for a Pullman loaf.
  8. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer loaf to a wire rack and let cool completely. Bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in parchment-lined foil, up to 3 days.
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Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

While I’m sharing delicious green sauces, I have another one to share… Thai green curry this time. 🙂 Using prepared curry paste is a wonderful shortcut, making this dish an elegant weeknight meal.

This dish comes from my favorite column, R.S.V.P., in Bon Appetit magazine. Subscribers write in to request recipes for dishes that stayed in their minds after dining out. This recipe was adapted from Root Down in Denver, Colorado. I doubled the meat and marinade, and increased the amount of garlic and the cooking time (internal meat temperature).

We ate it with steamed spinach over brown Basmati rice. I served the tenderloin over the spinach and rice so that every component was smothered in the wonderful sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Tenderloin:

  •  1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) fresh orange juice
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 to 1½ pounds each)
  • coarse salt
  • 1 T grapeseed or vegetable oil

For the Sauce & Assembly:

  • 1 T plus ½ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup prepared green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (from 1 lime)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
  • Unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas; for serving)
  • 1 to 2 pounds spinach, steamed until wilted, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1.  Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add tenderloin meat; close bag, pressing out air. Chill, turning once, 4–12 hours.
  2. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat dry; discard marinade. Season lightly with salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 250°.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high.
  5. Cook tenderloin, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side, 5 minutes total.
  6. Transfer pan to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of tenderloin registers 135°, 20–25 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. While meat is cooking, heat 1 T oil in a large saucepan over medium.
  9. Cook shallot and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  10. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened in color and very fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  11. Add coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, 20–25 minutes. Let curry mixture cool.
  12. Transfer curry mixture to a blender and add agave, lime juice, ¼ cup cilantro, and 2 T water; blend until very smooth.
  13. With motor running, add remaining ½ cup oil in a steady stream; blend until sauce is thick and emulsified. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium just until warmed through.
  14. Serve pork over prepared rice and steamed spinach, topped with sauce, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

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Single-Crust Damson Plum & Apple Pie

I “had” to make this wonderful weeknight pie with the Damson plums I received in my CSA share. 🙂 Apparently, they are too tart to be eaten raw and must be cooked. Lucky for me, I received over two pounds of them and was able to enjoy them in two different desserts!

The combination of tart fruit with a sweet cookie-like crust in this pie was absolutely delicious. Blending plums with apples was a wonderful bridge from summer to fall as well.

This recipe was adapted from The Guardian, contributed by Nigel Slater, via Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe used prune plums. It was almost a cobbler with its crumbly lid and oozing filling. Amazing.

I’m sharing my pie at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #138 this week, co-hosted by my friends Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau and Johanne @French Gardener Dishes. Enjoy!

For the Pastry Lid:

  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (I used the zest from about 1/2 a naval orange.)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plus 6 1/2 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse or flaky salt
  • milk or heavy cream, for brushing crust
  • turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling crust
  • softly whipped, lightly sweetened cream, or vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional (unnecessary!)

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound ripe Damson plums or Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
  • 1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into smaller chunks (I used Pink Lady apples.)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • squeeze or two of fresh orange juice
  1. Make the pastry lid: In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the lightly beaten egg and scrape down sides.
  3. Slowly add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat until combined.
  4. Scrape dough into a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and stick in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes, or until firmed up.
  5. Assemble the pie: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C or gas mark 4).
  6. Butter a pie dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  7. Add the fruit and sprinkle it with the sugar, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently toss the ingredients together once or twice. 
  8. Roll out the firmed-up lid dough between sheets of plastic wrap or on a very well floured counter.
  9. Gently lift it onto the pie and fold the edges underneath to fit the dish. Crimp the edges, as desired. (Note: The crust may tear- all the better to let juice erupt through.)
  10. Cut 4 vents in the top to allow steam to release and additional juice to bubble through.
  11. Brush the crust with milk or cream, sprinkle with sugar. 
  12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly golden on top, covering the edges after the first 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.
  13. Scoop onto dishes and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream, as desired. (I thought it was perfect on its own!)

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Tropical Carrot, Turmeric, & Ginger Smoothie

This smoothie is the most unusual I’ve ever made- or tasted. It’s spicy but not too spicy. Savory but not too savory- thanks to the orange and mango. Super healthy. It was very ORANGE too! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I substituted chia seeds for hemp seeds and dried turmeric for fresh. I was too cold to add the ice! It was a perfect lunch with a small handful of walnuts.

Yield: about 2 cups, one serving

  • 1 blood or navel orange, peel and white pith removed
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • ⅔ cup coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon shelled raw hemp seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated peeled turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ice
  1. Using smoothie or ice crush setting, purée orange, carrot, mango, coconut water, hemp/chia seeds, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

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