Every month I write a recipe column for my local newspaper, The Hinton Voice. Here is my column for March.
[Recently a friend of mine gave me a vintage cookbook that features historical recipes from Jasper. In it I found a multitude of recipes for orange bread, including the recipe that inspired this one. Once I delved into the book I discovered that orange bread in Jasper was fairly popular in the early to mid 1900’s, and is a proud Jasper tradition to this day. Orange bread was served at a local teahouse in the area (the Mount Edith Cavell Chalet) and was a favorite of many notable guests such as King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe, not to mention the multitude of tourists that came to visit Jasper each year. Many thought the secret to the light airiness of the bread was due to the high elevation.
In addition to the rich historical origins, one of the things I love most about vintage recipes is their simplicity. All of the recipes use only a handful of ingredients that are readily available in most kitchens, or are easy to find at a local grocery stores. Best of all, the recipes boast no fancy equipment - a simple mixing bowl and a sturdy spoon and you’re good to go. This recipe book in particular even mentions using teacups in place of cups for measurement, which in itself is incredibly telling of the era in which these recipes were cultivated.
Whether you’re making this bread for a little bit of Jasper nostalgia, or simply for afternoon tea, be sure to make a double batch because once the smell of this sweet orange bread hits your kitchen, nothing but a plate filled with crumbs is soon to follow.
The earliest version of orange bread that I could find was served at the Cavell Teahouse located in Jasper, Alberta in 1927 by Mrs. Slark (and later Anne Guild, who took over the teahouse until it closed in the 1970’s). The bread was made in batches of 12 loaves at a time, several times a day to keep up with the flock of tourists after WWII!]
Recipe makes 1 loaf
- 2 oranges
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup shredded coconut
Using an orange peeler, scrape the rinds of 2 oranges into a bowl. Add sugar and let orange/sugar mixture sit for about an hour to allow the oils from the orange rinds to incorporate into the sugar.
Place sugar in a medium saucepan, and cover with 2 cups cold water (hint - for an even stronger orange flavor, substitute some of the water with freshly squeezed juice from the oranges). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes a marmalade type consistency. Allow to cool.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Slowly stir into the marmalade mixture, alternating with egg and milk, being sure to start and end with flour. Gently fold coconut into batter being sure not to over mix.
Pour mixture into a buttered pan and let stand for 15 minutes.
Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.
Serve with freshly sliced oranges, or a make a simple glaze using a few tablespoons orange juice and a cup or so of icing sugar.