Orange bread is well worth the extra effort
I am a lousy zester. Don't have the patience or the steady hand to get at the essence of a citrus peel without cutting into the bitter white pith. When I see a recipe that calls for zest or peel in any amount overteaspoon, I turn the page. It has long been my belief that the world would be a better place if we all respected our limitations.
This is why I never tried the recipe printed here in 2002 for the orange bread from the old Stewart's Pharmacy in Waikiki.
This bread was extremely popular in the '60s - so much so that Stewart's printed up coasters bearing the recipe. It's a quick bread, and so fairly simple on the face of it, but it calls for 1 cup of thinly sliced orange peel that's cooked with sugar to make a sweet syrup.
A couple of weeks ago, Cathy Izutsu wrote in search of the recipe and in trying to send it to her I found that through some quirk of technology it's nearly impossible to find in the archives on our Web site. So I dug it out again and offer it now for a new batch of nostalgic former Stewart's customers.
This time, though, I put in the time it took to do all that peeling and slicing. My suggestion is that you start with a whole orange (don't peel it first). Use a vegetable peeler and hold it at a shallow angle, peeling off as a long a strip as you can. Use a sawing motion. Don't angle the peeler too deeply or you'll get pith, which will add a lingering aftertaste to your bread.
One note about the recipe: Most quick breads require minimum mixing; wet and dry ingredients are stirred until just moistened. With this one, you beat the batter for a good four minutes. I'd always been taught that overbeating overdevelops glutens, which leads to toughness. But there's obviously more to this lesson in baking chemistry, as this orange bread turns out very soft and light.
Stewart's Pharmacy Orange Bread
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
» Orange syrup:
1 cup orange peel, white pith removed, cut into very thin strips about 1 inch long
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
To make syrup: Put orange peel and water in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, cooking until peel is tender, about 15 minutes (add more water if it boils away too quickly). Add sugar; boil 10 more minutes. You should have about 3/4 cup of a light syrup. Cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 4-by-6-inch loaf pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Cream butter, eggs and sugar. Beat in milk. Add dry ingredients, beating on medium speed, 4 minutes. Dough will be very smooth and soft.
Add orange peel and syrup. Fold into dough until well incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan (pan will be only half-full, but bread will rise to fill). Bake 40 to 50 minutes.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per 1/2-inch slice: 110 calories, 1.5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 2 g protein.
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