Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf | Kitchen in the Hills

I must be the only person I know who is looking forward to daylight savings time. I will happily lose an hour of sleep once if it means later sunrises, later sunsets, and longer days. I have been craving those extra hours of light. Days long enough and light enough to allow time for work and a sunset hike. Clear skies and brighter stars and everything in bloom. And I somehow feel like I have more time to get everything done if the sun is out longer— it may not make perfect sense, but my brain works in crazy ways.

It finally feels like the start of spring over here— warm weather and sunshine, iced coffee, longer days, better photographs more time outdoors.

But the start of spring means the end of winter produce, and I’m determined to try as much of it as I can before it goes out of season.

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf | Kitchen in the Hills

I enjoy produce, and I try to buy a lot of it. How I went so long without having a blood orange is a mystery to me. Finally this year, at the tail end of the season, I tried one for the first time.

The flavors were such a surprise to me. A bittersweet orange, with just the faintest hint of tart. The minute I bit into a slice, I thought, “this would go perfectly with vanilla.”

I turned those blood oranges into this loaf, with poppy seeds I spotted in the bulk aisle of my grocery store. I had never baked with either before, but citrus + poppy seeds has long been one of my favorite pairings, and I decided to go for it. The loaf turned out beautifully– butter, sugar, eggs, yogurt, blood orange, poppy seeds, and yes, just a hint of vanilla.

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My favorite way to add citrus zest to baked goods

citrus zest

I love lemons. And limes, and grapefruits, and oranges. There’s no citrus fruit that I don’t love. The irresistibly bright scent just gets to me. Especially in the middle of winter, when all of the food is too heavy, too dark, too much. I like to add citrus zest and juice to baked goods, to add a little interest and a lot of flavor. Meyer lemon zest in cookies. Orange zest in chocolate tarts. Grapefruit zest in browned butter cookies, a completely unexpected pairing but totally awesome. Today, I thought I’d share my favorite way to add citrus to baked goods— complete with photographs!

I like to rub my citrus zest into granulated sugar, a tip I picked up from Joy the Baker. This method releases every last bit of essential oil from the zest into the sugar, so you can have a totally flavor-packed cake or cookie or brownie.

microplane grater

I’ll be working with blood oranges, but you can do this with any citrus you like.

To zest your citrus, begin by cleaning and drying it thoroughly. Any variety of citrus will do, but try to buy organic— you’re going to be eating the zest, and that’s often where the most pesticide residue ends up.

Grab a grater or zester. I use this microplane grater, which is pure magic. It’s sharp, it’s precise, and it lets me zest citrus without getting into the bitter pith. I highly recommend buying one of these, but if you have a regular grater, that will also do!

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