Cranberry Orange Oat Bran Bread
I have lots to do today. My suitcase is still staring at me, fully packed; the laundry needs to be folded and put away; the dishwasher needs emptying; the little pool of dirt Stella made under the potted fern needs sweeping up; and all those endless law readings need checking off.
But I also have lots to think about. Our house is being auctioned off in the street out front on Saturday morning, someone’s sending a building inspector over (so I have to hide the water damage…just kidding. No, actually I’m not), the semester started again on Monday and I’m ambivalent about my choice to lighten my courseload, and I’m wishing we were back in the summertime, among family, friends and fizzy wine.
Ambivalence is my current state of mind, and I feel a little like I’m floating above my life rather than living it. When things get serious (ie. signing the contract for a house for $982,482,253,601 dollars while trying to sell a little hole-in-the-wall fixed up with much love, sweat and swearing), when your baby starts to walk (!), when you realize you’re potentially setting yourself up for a lifetime of the 9 – 5, when you see your beloved family for 4 sun-soaked days then flip back to a life that’s totally separate but totally ours…there’s ambivalence. I sit here and type while the laundry and my ginormous law text books sit there in heavy silence. They’re judging me, but whatever. Today I needed to bake.
I wanted something warm (it’s been negative bum in Sydney lately which means 50 degrees), comforting (an Ocean Spray classic), easy (no creaming, beating or folding). I also wanted to clean out the freezer (which was full of cranberries) and cupboard (containing a [now half empty] big, sad bag of bran) and I wanted to be able to lick the bowl. Enter: cranberry orange oat bran bread.
I whipped up this thing while listening to my first NPR show in over a month and damn, it felt good.
I made lots of little changes, like taking out the walnuts, adding the oat bran, using oil rather than shortening, leaving the cranberries whole, and doubling the everything because in my semi-anxious semi-way-too-relaxed state, as the world crumbles around me and keeps on spinning perfectly at the same time, I need lots of this stuff.
CRANBERRY ORANGE (OAT BRAN) BREAD
Adapted from the classic Ocean Spray recipe. Makes one loaf and can – should! – be doubled. Feel free to substitute some of the flour for bran. I’m sure that adding some spices like cinnamon or nutmeg would make the bread even better. Also – you can’t even tell there’s oat bran in this bread.
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup flour and 1 cup oat bran)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 F/180C. Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins or whatever you want to use with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, oat bran (if using) sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
In another bowl, mix the juice, oil, peel and egg until combined, then stir into the flour mixture until well blended. Fold in the cranberries, then spoon the batter evenly into the loaf pan.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes (or more…the more oat bran you use the less it will have to bake) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from pan, cool completely.