Christmas morning can be a joyful occasion, and as loved ones gather around the table, you can contribute to the magic of the day with beautiful vintage wares and a tasty spread that keeps on giving. If you are looking to send your guests off with a small treat, homemade petite or mini bread loaves are simple yet thoughtful gifts. Use the gifts as part of your place settings at your table, or display them on a pretty cake plate or serving tray to be given to guests as they leave.
Whether you choose a simple or sophisticated Christmas brunch, the idea is to help cultivate a sense of warmth and love that can often elude us during the busy holiday season.
Set the Scene
Reflect the special nature of the day by using your best vintage pieces like silver serveware, your grandmother’s china and your favorite cake stands. To create contrast, don’t be afraid to use items that show their history. A rusty galvanized bucket repurposed as a vase creates a lovely vignette of shabby elegance. A vintage tin letter holder makes an endearing base for a place card setting. To top it all off, use lace ribbon, paper doilies and faux holly berries as accents for pops of festive color.
Just like your décor is a mix of styles, offer a spread with a variety of flavors, savory and sweet. This can be as involved or simple as you’d like. Make your own savory quiche or serve soft boiled eggs in those darling vintage egg cups you hardly use. For a seasonal treat and gift, use this delicious Cranberry Orange Christmas Bread recipe. Make in one loaf pan to include as part of your brunch spread, or if you bake them in a 9-cavity petite loaf pan, use them as individual sized favors. After wrapping them in cellophane to keep them fresh, simply wrap them with an inexpensive paper doily and secure each with a pretty ribbon and a small sprig of faux holly berries.
CRANBERRY ORANGE CHRISTMAS BREAD
(1) 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan or
(2) 7 3/4” x 3 3/8” loaf pans or
(1) 9-cavity 2 1/2” x 3 3/8” petite loaf pan
(1) 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan: 70–75 minutes, depending on finish of loaf pan
(2) 7 3/4” x 3 5/8” loaf pans: 25–30 minutes, depending on finish of loaf pan
(1) 9-cavity 2 1/2” x 3 3/8” petite loaf pan: 20–30 minutes, depending on finish of loaf pan
For the bread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh, chopped cranberries (or 1/2 cup of dried cranberries)
Note: Leave fresh cranberries whole if baking large loaves.
For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from zested orange)
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan(s) with cooking spray. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and fresh orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the two together until the sugar becomes fragrant and turns a very pale shade of orange. Whisk the sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the wet ingredients. Whisk together until combined thoroughly.
Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in the cranberries using a spatula. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan(s).
Bake according to the pan size you’ve selected or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If necessary, loosely drape a piece of tin foil over the loaf pan to prevent overbrowning during the last 10 minutes of baking.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for 10–15 minutes; then loosen the bread from the cavity using a knife or small spatula. Carefully lift and remove the loaf from the pan. Cool it completely on a wire rack.
Prepare the orange glaze while the loaf is cooling. Combine powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a small bowl. Whisk these ingredients together until smooth. Add more orange juice if necessary until an icing consistency is reached. Use a spoon or small whisk to drizzle the glaze over the bread. Slice and serve. Bread loaves can be stored for two to three days in an airtight container or in plastic wrap.