Monday, December 3, 2012



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?

Fouace Nantaise

Orange Cointreau Brownie Tiramisu

Christmas Cookie Tree with Mascarpone Limoncello Cream

Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier Madeleines

Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake

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)

My beautiful new Edgeware zester! I'm in love!

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.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Divine flavors! So Xmassy and festive. I love Cointreau.



Ma che ti sei mangiato said...

You make me impatient. I miss Nantes now, I visited it too quickly during an hot summer...Citrus and recipe compensate my unusual impatience

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

You miss the gaudy American stuff? I would so take understated elegance. I like white lights...lots and lots of sparkling white lights. When I lived in North Carolina it seems that's all everyone used and it was gorgeous. Oh, and candles in the windows...yes, now electric but I love it anyhow!

We need an old fashioned coffee klatch (?)...I'll bring some of my bread if you'll bring some of yours? I think this looks wonderful; love these flavors together.

Cake Duchess said...

I like the holidays for the simple reason: the sights and sounds. I would love to experience them in Nantes one day. I bet it is lovely. Your quick bread is fantastic and I could use a slice now. Lovely flavors!

Lisa said...

Before I die..I'd like to spend one holiday season in France. I love white lights and elegance. However, I won't deny I do love the faudy American ranbow lights..especially the houses that blind you lol I also love all blue lit X-Mas trees. Yeah, I'm weird.

With that said..this orange Cointreau quick bread looks so moist and luscious - like a boozy orange off a Florida tree :)

~Kate said...

I always love baking with orange flavors once the cooker months settle in. It is one of my favorite flavors. This is a lovely little loaf. Simply elegant.

Jayasri Ravi said...

I love baking with orange flavours as well, just because my daughter likes everything with a tangy flavour.., Bread looks awesome.., I am waiting for holidays so I can bake more and my kids will enjoy it more..

Helene Dsouza said...

You just reminded me that I have to go and look for some cointreau! =P

Your bread recipe looks quick to recreate at home. Always need this type of recipes!

Thanks jamie!

PS: Have you sent your letter to the Pere Noel already? =)

Lizzy Do said...

Yeah, we love driving through the city this time of year, looking for the most overdone/obnoxious holiday lighting...somehow it brings out my Christmas spirit! Your bread looks like a most delicious way to start any morning...beautifully done!

Carolyn Jung said...

I always think Mother Nature is pretty generous if in the thick of winter, she can give us pure sunshine in a fruit. Citrus in winter is such a godsend. Makes everything brighter. ;)

Not Quite Nigella said...

Boozy and delicious, Jamie this is perfect for the holidays! I haven't yet put up a tree-we often leave that to just before everyone arrives! :P

Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra said...

The bread looks lovely!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

Oh yes champagne, chocolate and chestnuts all scream holidays to me. A little boozy flavor seems right this time of year.

Bunkycooks said...

I can literally smell this baking! The aroma must be wonderful and so very festive for the holidays. I would love to experience the French Christmas traditions, as you describe it. Maybe one day we can enjoy the champagne together during the holidays!

Priscilla | ShesCookin said...

The holidays are all about champagne and the festive energy that the vibrant sights and sounds exude. A little boozy dessert is the icing on the cake ;) Cointreau is a favorite of mine and the citrus flavors in your quick bread are perfect for a cuppa tea or flute of bubbly. Happy Holidays, Jamie!

Priscilla | ShesCookin said...

The holidays are all about champagne and the festive energy that the vibrant sights and sounds exude. A little boozy dessert is the icing on the cake ;) Cointreau is a favorite of mine and the citrus flavors in your quick bread are perfect for a cuppa tea or flute of bubbly. Happy Holidays, Jamie!

Dewi said...

Simply irresistible. Cointreau? I am in :)

Terra said...

I agree, booze + holidays = awesome! AND orange screams holiday cooking/baking to me, especially orange and cranberry together:-) Your bread looks fantastic, Hugs, Terra

Mairi @ Toast said...

I adore citrus too....especially in a cake! You would love my neighbours night it is like Blackpool illuminations! Bedecked in lights would be an understatement, but I love it. Being Summer here I need a little help to get in to the festive spirit & lots of sparkly lights help, that & maybe a little boozy cake!

Nuts about food said...

In love with the crumb of that cake and the zester...

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love the holiday season and all the baubles and tinsels that come with it. Cannot imagine Christmas without the kitsch! A great citrusy perfect for a quick interlude before we continue hanging up the decorations ;o)

Jayne said...

Lovely, what a fabulous Christmassy loaf!


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