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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Orange Cranberry Walnut Bread

Time for some tidbits. Do you know what high tea and low tea are? Good for you if you are acquainted with the terms. If clueless about those words, join the club. I didn't know what they were either until last week and my guesses in fact, would have been quite the opposite to their real meaning. What started as a simple online search this week for elevenses menu turned into somewhat like I was going through a copy of 'English tea traditions for Dummies', (if such a book exists). 😵

One can easily misinterpret the terms 'low and high' teas, associating them with the social class. The 'afternoon tea' of the aristocrat ladies where one needs to mind their dress code and etiquette was called 'low tea' because they would sit in low armchairs in a sitting room while enjoying their tea and cakes set at low level tables. Low tea, a light snack was intended to tide someone over until dinner and usually used to be a ladies 'get together' or a social event. Think of scones, tea sandwiches, pastries, and cakes when talking about low tea. Here, a meal of tea, scones and cream is called a 'cream tea' and it is the simplest form of afternoon tea. If more sweets are added along with tea, scones and cream, then one would have a 'light tea'. If savory stuff is also included in the menu, then it becomes elaborate and constitutes a 'full tea'.    

Ironically, 'high tea' originated among the lower classes of the society and it is the meal served at the end of a working day. During 1800's as I mentioned in this post, dinner was a midday meal and the working class did not have the luxury of a lunch break. They instead had tea/meal right after their work with a hearty meal like cold cuts, cheeses and meat pies. This evening meal was served at at a high table - a proper dinner table and hence the name.

If I am not wrong, a formal afternoon tea time meal is a almost a thing of the past in most of the English households owing to the modern day busy lives. Unless if it is a special occasion or one is visiting classy hotels / tea rooms of England to partake in the afternoon tea which provides the tourists an opportunity to experience the age old English custom along with the locals who drop in to enjoy a relaxed afternoon with a nice cuppa with treats.

Now from those afternoon tea sessions to mid morning breaks. Elevenses, a colloquial English expression that started in the mid 18th century in Britain means a light refreshment taken at about eleven in the morning. I guess the timing had and has been flexible and the food served must have been highly variable. It is obvious  that people who eat an early or no breakfast crave for some light refreshment during mid mornings irrespective of their time period in history or their location on the map. The coffee or tea breaks of the modern world is a proof that the institution of elevenses still exists everywhere though maybe not on an elaborate scale or with the same frequency as during the previous centuries. And for that matter not even under the same name, depending upon where you live.

I am one of those who eats an early breakfast which is usually on the lighter side and feel the hunger pangs mid morning. Today's orange bread is perfect for such situations. A small cup of milk and a slice of this bread would suffice until lunch break. Bread served with butter and small cakes were a usual feature of elevenses and so, I made a quick bread which was kind of cross between the two though the yeast breads were the norm during the 18th century. The other elevenses posts this week are ginger biscuits and classic scones.

This bread which is on the sweeter side turned predominantly orange flavored one since I upped the liquid ratio in the recipe. The original recipe uses cranberries but I opted for the dried, sweetened ones since no one at home is a fan of tart cranberries. The bread tasted delicious, slightly warmed and slathered with butter. Walnuts add slight crunch while the sweetened, dried cranberries lend a sweet - tart touch. I made two mini loaves and the small slices do the portion control and are great for snacking. I guess the sugar quantity can be reduced if not looking for a sweet bread. 

1 flax egg or any substitute for one large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 or 2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp. hot water
1/2 cup orange juice *
1 cup fresh / frozen cranberries (I used dried and sweetened ones.)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

* I had to use extra juice since the batter was not coming together. I used over 1/4 cup. Start with 1/2 cup mentioned in the recipe and go on adding in small increments until bread batter is formed. The final batter should not be of neither a dough consistency nor a runny batter. 
* Preheat the oven to 325 deg F / 165 deg C.
* Combine 1 tbsp. flaxmeal and 3 tbsp. warm water in a small bowl and keep aside for about 5 minutes. 
* Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
* Combine flax egg, orange zest, melted butter, hot water and juice in another bowl and beat to combine. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Gently fold in berries and nuts.
* Transfer the batter to a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. This can also be baked in 4 mini loaf pans but the baking time would be less.
* Cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
* I served the slices warm slathered with butter generously.

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Elevenses' Theme.



vaishali sabnani said...

The flavours of the bread are tempting me to bake this right away , orange and cranberry ! Super ones ! Let me give it a try , I can eat it anytime :))

Varadas Kitchen said...

I like the orange hue on the cake. Makes it look festive.

Priya Suresh said...

Wish i get those slices rite from my lappy screen, orange and cranberry bread looks absolutely stunning and prefect.

Harini R said...

Wow! Love this bread. Any citrus based bread/cake is a total hit with me and my little one. This bread fits the bill perfectly and I shall definitely try this one soon.

Srividhya Gopalakrishnan said...

Omg, I never knew about the tea traditions nor the term low or high tea. Thanks for the detailed explanation. :-) Lot to learn huh... These royal traditions sighhh Between the citrus nut bread looks very yum and perfect for "any" tea.

Gayathri Kumar said...

That is a wonderful read on the tradition. Cranberries and orange in the loaf sounds amazing and I am sure that it is full of flavour.

Pavani N said...

I definitely need that book of 'English Tea traditions for Dummies' :-)
Your bread with orange, cranberries and walnuts looks so delicious and the flavor combination is to die for.

Swati said...

The bread looks so well baked with a nice crumb. I love to bake with oranges and cranberries. Lovely share.

Srivalli said...

Suma, thank you so much for taking the time to read on the traditions and sharing the details on the low and high tea, can imagine how fixed those generation folks must have been. This bread sounds and looks excellent, thanks for the excellent recipe and I so thoroughly enjoyed this theme!.

Sandhya Ramakrishnan said...

Orange, cranberry and walnut is a beautiful combination and that bread has come out so well. love the texture of the bread and I am tempted to taste some.

Anonymous said...

I couldn?t refrai from commenting. Very well written!

Chef Mireille said...

I love the flavorings of orange and cranberry in this sweet bread. What a delicious combination!