Gentle reader, if you are broke, learn to bake. Whenever you need a stocking stuffer or hostess gift, you can produce a lovely homemade goodie that makes it look like you were super thoughtful when in fact you just couldn’t afford to buy a real present. (I kid, I kid, family members for whom I baked this bread—the two are not mutually exclusive!)
This is a lovely bread for breakfast/brunch or afternoon tea; four of my relatives received a loaf in their stockings this Christmas. It’s pretty simple for a novice baker to whip up and takes less than two hours including baking time. I used the bread in this recipe as a starting point and switched it up. Yes, baking is a science, but once you’ve got some practice under your belt, you should feel emboldened to experiment with tweaking recipes to make them your own!
You can skip the caramel glaze if you like, and the bread would still be pretty darn delicious. I also made an unglazed version using lemon zest and a pint of coarsely chopped fresh blackberries (and no orange juice), all four loaves of which I gave to my grandmother. Grandparents genuinely do prefer stuff you made yourself to real presents—go figure.
A word of warning: If you DO make the caramel, PLEASE be careful since it gets INSANELY hot and will bond to any surface—such as, say, human flesh—instantly. I learned this the hard way and now have a hideous scar on my forearm where a blob of caramel spattered and seared it. Turns out there’s a reason chef coats have long sleeves.
And now, if that little cautionary tale didn’t completely ruin your appetite, here’s the recipe!