COLUMNISTS

What to do on a winter’s day?

Susan Manzke
Be careful to keep an eye on the time as you bake your Orange Pop Bread so it turns out with a golden, orange crust.

The weather outside was frightful, but the kitchen was so delightful, so what could I do? Let it snow and set about cooking.

Inclement weather is the best time to bake. When children filled our home, the kitchen was a yummy place to be. If I wasn’t making soup, Rebecca was baking cookies. In our small kitchen, we often got in each other’s way, bumping as we reached for ingredients or pots and pans. Still, the cramped quarters didn’t stop us from our food prep frenzies.

The other day, when a west wind blew against this house, the kitchen felt cold. Of course, it was time to bake. (That nasty wind was gusting to 40 mph and sent one of the outside cat dishes flying all the way to the shed. You should have seen me race to catch it before it left the county.) Anyway, having food in the oven meant the kitchen would be toasty again and so would I.

What to bake? That was my problem. But first I had to clear the stuff (mostly papers) off my counter before setting to work.

As I tried to decide what to do with the things that were in my way, I came across a recipe from a friend I had been meaning to try. In large print at the top of the paper, it said Cola Bread. That’s right. The liquid in this recipe was pop/soda.

I searched my cupboard for a can of Cola and came up empty-handed. Darn. Thwarted right from the beginning.

Good thing I didn’t stop there. I checked the bottom of the recipe and found out other fizzy drinks could be substituted.

Back to the cupboard I went. There was ginger ale, root beer, and orange pop. Since I’d been craving orange, I chose that flavor for my bread.

The Cola Bread (now Orange Pop Bread) had four ingredients and you can’t make a recipe much simpler than that.

Susan put aside the graters, and peeler, ending up using a knife to remove the orange zest.

For my large loaf, I started with 1 ⅛ cups of orange pop, added 2 tablespoons of softened butter, 3 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose flour because that was what I had), and 2 ½ teaspoons of yeast—no sugar or salt went into this recipe.

I wanted to add more orange flavor to my bread and decided to include orange peel zest.

Getting the peel off my orange without the pith was a challenge. I tried the graters I had. After working the implement back and forth, using all my strength, I hardly made a dent in the orange peel. Back to my gadget drawer for a potato peeler. That tool took strips of peel off, but it also included the pith which wasn’t wanted—the white pith is bitter.

I ended up using a sharp knife to get strips of pithless peel off the orange, and then those strips had to be chopped into tiny pieces—getting the zest off the orange was the hardest part of making this bread.

I put these ingredients together, including the zest of one orange, and set my bread machine to work—my hands were too tired from all that zesting to do the kneading. From there on I treated this Orange Pop Bread like a regular white bread recipe.

Too bad the dough started out dry. I added a bit more of the pop—good thing I hadn’t drunk the last from the bottle.

Susan's bread dough is risen and ready to bake.

After the second rise, I baked the risen loaf for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, making sure to set a timer so I didn’t forget my baked bread. If I waited to smell that wonderful aroma, the loaf could have been over-baked or even burnt. So, remember to set your timer!

My Orange Pop Bread turned out great and even tasted good toasted.

Crummy winter weather has its advantages. Baking bread is just one of them. Soups and stews come next. And then … well, whatever is cooking in the kitchen would be a good change from the cold outside and yummy for your tummy coming in after doing chores.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.