Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cranberry Orange Quinoa Loaf

Old friends are the souls that connect us to our past and keep us rooted in the future.  I had the pleasure of lunching with an old pal today for her birthday.  A mother to four busy kids, she is quite the remarkable woman.  I delivered lunch to her home (kale salad and rutuabaga soup) and this loaf for dessert.  We lunched, we caught up and mostly we basked in a quiet hour for two busy moms to reflect on the journey of parenting, marriage and our own happiness.

Living together about twenty years ago, I was known to make meals for the whole house of girls.  Even then, no matter what I made, her response was always the same, "that is delicious!"  This was a good audience to try something new and different on, even now.  The addition of quinoa might seem a little strange but it adds a nice heft to it.  The first time I added quinoa to a baked good it was out of necessity.  Some leftover quinoa sitting in the fridge made me think, why not throw in a muffin or cake?  I've made several recipes since and am always amazed at what a nice density it brings to baked goods. It blends right in and unless someone tells you it's there, you won't notice it.
My friend doesn't have much a sweet tooth and so my aim was to deliver something just barely sweetened.  With no sugar in the loaf itself, the sweetness comes from the sprinkle of demerara  sugar on top and drizzle of glaze as well.  If you like things a little sweeter, feel free to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to the batter itself.  Simply whisk it in with the dry ingredients.
Although this was a birthday treat, I think it makes a great Christmas gift as well.  Wrapped tightly it will keep for a day or two.  The cranberries bring a festive flavour and colour that just scream Happy Holidays to me!  With a hot cup of tea or coffee, it makes for a great Christmas morning snack.

Cranberry Orange Quinoa Loaf

adapted from Eat Drink Love

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange zest (about one orange)
1/4-1/2 cup demerara sugar (optional; see notes above)
2 eggs
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 1/2 cups cranberries (I used frozen)
1 cup walnuts (optional)
2 Tbsp demerara  sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan with about 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil and dust about 1 Tbsp flour. Shake flour around and dump out any that does not stick to sides.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, quinoa, orange zest, sugar (if using) baking powder and salt.  Create a well in the middle and reserve.  In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, eggs and coconut oil.  Pour wet ingredients into well in bowl of dry and mix until just coming together.  Add cranberries and walnuts and stir to combine.  Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 50-60min until pick comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack to cool and drizzle with orange glaze (recipe below).

Orange Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
3-4 Tbsp orange juice
pinch sea salt
Whisk all ingredients together and drizzle on warm cake.  

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