Change is in the air, can you feel it? It’s still cold and snowy here in Montreal but not as cold and not as snowy as it has been. The other day, I actually went outside without gloves or a hat, and in a coat I reserve for the first weeks of November. Baby steps, but still. Change is coming.
I always try to savour these transitional patches in the calendar. They feel unique and full of energy: charged weeks in-between what was and what will be. I take the time to notice when and how winter is bleeding out and when and how spring is thumping its first beats.
This year, it’s been all about light. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting and watching, a cup of coffee or tea in hand, usually in the morning but sometimes in the afternoon. Our living room has big, wrap-around windows and it’s amazing to see how the light chases itself across the space in a given day. Even better: how it fluctuates as we draw closer to spring.
The light feels brighter and cleaner and stronger than it has in months. Makes sense, I guess.
Besides the light, we’ve been eating our way through this liminal time: plenty of optimistic citrus. Isn’t it the best right now? Orange and grapefruit, lemon and lime. I love the zest most of all. Grate it finely and that bittersweet husk adds surprising flavour to any dish, sweet or savoury.
Orange Carrot Loaf
This loaf cake was born one afternoon when I felt like making something simple. Layer cakes, cookies and pies are just fine but sometimes you crave humble motions and unadorned bites. This loaf is that.
This loaf is moist and just-sweet and scented with orange zest and cinnamon. It’s meant for slicing thickly and eating right there, standing in the kitchen on a sunny afternoon. Make it in a single bowl with just a whisk and a wooden spoon. Eat it in one day, no leftovers.
Recipe makes one small loaf
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup brown sugar
the zest of one orange
2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated carrot
Preheat oven to 300. Grease and line a small loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and orange zest. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; stir until combined. Fold in grated carrot.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. When ready to eat, run a knife along the edges of the loaf before removing.