Total Prep Time: ~20 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Greetings, browsers of the Internet. I hope this blog reaches you in good health and spirits. My name is Cheyenne—I am a historical interpreter at the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum. As the title reads, this is a blog post that will follow my endeavors to bake. In celebration of the summer (however strange it may be) and Florida’s heritage, we will tackle baking with our state’s famed delicacy: the orange.
But don’t worry—I won’t be baking off the cuff! My guide through the culinary delights of citrus will be Ode to a Spanish Orange; a 30-some page pamphlet of recipes that was compiled in 1992 by the Ximenez-Fatio House committee alongside the presentation of several Seville orange seedling trees to organizations in the St. Augustine Historic district by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Florida.
Ode to the Spanish Orange, published May 14th, 1992.
This cookbook was originally released in celebration of the Columbus Quincentenary. However small a gesture, my iteration of the book’s recipes will act instead as a celebration of the resilient multicultural communities that blossomed all over the “New World.”
Now that I’ve cited my sources and stated my claim like a good student, let’s get into the baking! I hope to eventually make my way through the entirety of this little book, and I’ve heard the beginning is a very nice place to start, so: Florida Orange Bread it shall be.Now, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve baked (baken?) bread but I wasn’t intimidated by this recipe at all. Neither should you be! In fact, this is such a straightforward recipe that I’m going to add a supplementary element: Datil-Orange Glaze. (Not for the faint of tongue.)
Before I cover the baking process and my experience making this recipe, here are your necessary ingredients for the bread:
- 3-4 oranges
- 1 and ½ cups of sugar
- ½ of a cup of water
- 3 teaspoons of butter
- 1 and ⅓ cups of orange juice
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- 4 cups of sifted, all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ a teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of salt
So, the first step is an aromatic one: it’s time to grate the oranges. Grate them until you have about ¾ of a cup of rinds. (I chose to grate a little extra to increase that pristine tartness that Florida oranges are known for—feel free to do the same.) Some more preparatory steps should be to beat those three eggs and preheat your oven to 325°.
Combine the orange rinds with the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook these slowly and lowly on the stove for about five minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. It is important at this step to stir your ingredients constantly—when all is said and done, your syrup should measure 1 and ½ cups. It is okay if you have a bit more, though!
After you’re satisfied with the syrup, add your butter and stir it into the mixture until it’s all fully melted. Then stir in the orange juice—I recommend juicing the oranges whose rinds you’ve grated, but store-bought juice works, too—and beaten eggs. Keep your liquid ingredients cooking low while you now sift together the dry ingredients: your flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
Now that your dry and liquid ingredients are prepared, it is time to combine them. Once the liquid is sufficiently cooled, mix them together until the ingredients are “moistened.” Remember, frontier cooking is all about pinches and dashes, so if the mix isn’t moist enough for you (or too much so!) add as much water or flour that satisfies you—I know I did! Interestingly enough, this batter should be lumpy!
I usually let my ingredients get used to each other before I bake them, which is why I didn’t have you prepare your baking pan at the start of our journey. The book says to use a loaf pan that is 9x5x3, but I am using a mini cast iron skillet for convenience. Use whatever vessel you please, it will be delicious any way!
Here’s the kicker—once your batter is in the oven, it’s to bake for an hour and a half (at 325°). If you are so inclined, this is an ideal opportunity to start your Datil-Orange glaze. Here are the ingredients:
- 1 orange
- 1 datil pepper
- ½ cup of sugar
- ⅓ cup of water
In much the same way you began the recipe, grate another whole orange and put the rinds in a saucepan. Next, carefully grate the “rinds” of about one datil pepper—or less! This Northeast Florida delicacy is seriously hot, so adapt this step to your personal heat tolerance. You could even forego the pepper and substitute a lemon for a more accessible taste. Combine these rinds with that of the orange, then stir in the sugar and water. Your glaze mixture should be stirred constantly on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. I usually let my glazes coagulate before applying them to the dish, so set aside until your bread is done and cool enough to eat.
The Ximenez-Fatio House’s kitchen is home to one of two remaining colonial-style beehive ovens in the state of Florida. Imagine the breads you could bake!
Once the hour and a half is over, remove your bread. To ensure that it is thoroughly cooked, poke a skewer or thermometer into its center and pull it back out. If there is batter leftover on your skewer, your bread will need a bit more time in the oven. I did have to give mine more cooking time, as the batter is rather thick.
Florida Orange Bread can be served with the Datil Pepper Glaze, cream cheese, or butter! It is a sweet dish that is perfect for breakfast and dessert.
Though no one’s table is quite as fine as Ms. Fatio’s, we encourage you to share your final product with us on social media.
If you enjoyed my rendition of a classic Florida recipe, drop a comment and let me know. Tag @theximenezfatiohouse on Instagram and Facebook if you try the recipe yourself, we’d love to see your beautiful baked goods!