We are getting close to that time of the year again: moving ahead in anticipation of the holidays, when the heart beats with joy and jingles, warm family gatherings, a lot of shopping, and giving. There is no denying that its the favorite time of the year.
The beginning of the holiday season is also the time for cooking, baking and feasts; for me that desire of baking turns into an obsession. I do not know if it is the smell of the spices, the warmth of the oven, or the remnants of the holiday preparation at home during my childhood or all of it. Baking a fresh loaf is one of the ways to calm, soothe and relax myself.
The physical part of the mess with flour and yeast is therapeutic. The smell of the orange zest and the orange peels that went in the holiday cakes my grandma baked still lingers. The wonderful colors of the fruits and nuts, and the warm aroma that hangs around the home while it bakes wraps around me like an old snug blanket on a chilly winter night – comforting, pleasurable and loving.
Good friends are like old fuzzy blankets too – comfortable and familiar without pretense. Kankana is one such girl, spreading the “sunshine” not only through her blog, “Sunshine and Smile“, but with her personality too. Cheerful, ready to laugh with you and also lend a shoulder when are in the deep downs. She has been blogging for less than a year, but the repertoire of recipes in her blog is huge, and unique encompassing and fusing flavors and ingredients from all cuisines. So please walk through her virtual kitchen.
Thank you Kankana for giving me a chance to do a post for your “sunshine” blog, a space that always brings a smile.
I had never baked a bread with yeast before I started blogging. I yearned for the bread machines in the stores, dreamed of herbs and spices that would make a homemade bread so delectable, but never dared to think that I could do my own. It took me time to take that first step, as I enviously longed to lay my hands on the fresh baked loaves I saw in the other blogs.
Then it happened. I do not remember how. There was no drama, no drum rolls, but I got my tiny pack of yeast and began my adventure. I think watching and reading the stories in other blogs made me comfortable. However I will never ever forget that feeling when I held my first bread, pulled it open, impatient and curious to see if it had the air pockets, smelling it and kind of acting crazy. And that was allowed, given it was my first one!
Well, its been quite some time since that first time. I have found my comfort zone, not very daring yet, but good enough to have a fresh loaf at home when we want it.
I have more to learn and do. The swirl bread seemed the easiest in the list. And this had to be the right time.
Sweet spiced breads are my favorites and look I forward to all kinds during this time of the year. The warm tantalizing perfume of the spices and zest synchronizes my mood with that of the season – poaching pears and inhaling the spiced simmering syrup, dropping dollops of spiced cookie dough on the tray, and baking breads, are all part of the holiday packet.
Thanksgiving is coming up and I have had my heart set on a spiced cranberry bread; sweet dried cranberries, lightly toasted nuts and with some swirls of spices. It just sounded right to me and something which will sit on a holiday table really well.
Sugar and the spices….
The sweet and tart dried berries, earthy nuts and the exhilarating fragrance of orange zest…
All of the above combined merrily into a Spiced Cranberry and Nut Swirl Bread.
We were smitten by this spiced bread. It bears the spirit of the holidays in the true sense – the captivating aroma of the spices and the full bodied bites of the cranberries and nuts do really please the taste buds.
Now head over to Sunshine and Smile for the recipe and enjoy with a cuppa or with some warm cider.