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Whole-orange loaf cake brightens a grey morning

Recipe: Poppy seeds add texture to vegan snack cake

Poppy seeds and orange zest add visual interest  to this moist orange loaf cake.

Poppy seeds and orange zest add visual interest to this moist orange loaf cake. Kathy Morrison

As citrus season rolls on through the end of winter, I felt the urge to bake something with oranges. Poking around online, I found a reference to "orange poppy lazy loaf" that led to Gretchen's Vegan Bakery.

I'm not a vegan cook, but I like to try plant-based recipes. Gretchen has a very active blog, and a wealth of recipes available, if vegan baking is your preference.

cara-cara-halves.jpg
This pink-tinged Cara Cara orange went into my loaf.

The orange loaf recipe is called "lazy," apparently, because the whole orange is used, skin and all, puréed in a food processor with all the other ingredients. (OK, not the stem or potential seeds, but everything else.)

I've make other whole-orange recipes before: The Almond & Orange Cake in our Taste Winter! cookbook is gluten- and dairy-free, though it uses 6 eggs, so definitely not vegan.

This recipe, unlike the other, doesn't require boiling the oranges first, but Gretchen warns to use oranges with thin skins (meaning less bitter pith), totaling about 5 ounces. I had one Cara Cara orange left that, minus the stem, weighed in at 5.1 ounces. Perfect. Mandarins or clementines also would be good choices.

I diverged from the original recipe in mixing and somewhat in ingredients. The primary difference is that she used Bob's Red Mill egg replacer, while I used a "flaxseed egg." The recipe here is my adaptation, which is less "lazy" but makes more sense to me.

Orange poppy seed snack loaf

Makes one 5-by-10-inch loaf

Ingredients:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 small navel orange or 2 small clementines, total weight about 5 ounces, stem end removed

1 scant cup granulated sugar (195 grams)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons (or more) poppy seeds

Optional light* glaze:

1/2 tablespoon fresh orange juice

3 to 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions:

Grease a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure the non-dairy milk into a 1 cup glass measuring cup. Stir in the ground flaxseed, and set aside.

Cut the orange in half or quarters to check for seeds. Remove any seeds and any thick interior stem. Place the orange pieces, with skin intact, in a food processor or blender. Add the granulated sugar and blend at high speed until the orange and sugar are puréed and well combined. (There will be small pieces of skin visible, which is OK.)

Scrape the orange mixture into a large bowl. Whisk in the oil, then the vanilla and the flaxseed-milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, being careful not to over-mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Cooling orange loaf
The baked loaf, cooling upside down.

Place the pan on a cooling rack, and let the loaf cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove it from the pan to the rack and allow to cool completely before glazing or serving.

*Note: I made a small amount of light glaze for the top of the loaf, but this is optional. If a thicker glaze is desired for a dessert presentation, combine 1 cup confectioner's sugar with 1 tablespoon fresh juice and 1-1/2 teaspoon orange zest. Garnish with orange slices and/or more poppy seeds, as desired.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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