I woke up on Sunday early because I knew I wanted to whip up something special to eat while watching the Meet the Press tribute to Tim Russert. I cannot count how many times I’ve gotten up and made a breakfast befitting Sunday in time to watch Tim’s engaging yet informative interviewing style. He made me think, he made me laugh but most importantly he brought his passion of life to the world of politics. So today, I pulled out a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while in honor of such a journalistic giant.
I first saw this recipe in an annual roundup of recipes from Cooking Light magazine. Reading the ingredients, however, I always thought it could use some punching up. And what’s better for a tea bread than walnuts? I also thought the recipe called for too much sugar and didn’t really need the almond extract. I also completely got rid of the icing suggested in the recipe. Who needs icing when you have orange zest? So as usual, I took something, messed around with the ingredients and measurements and came up with something else.
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of one orange
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside. In a small bowl, grind the orange zest into the sugar creating a fragrant, orange-y sugar. Cream together the sugar and butter in a new bowl of a stand mixer (or place the beaten egg whites in a separate bowl and wash the mixing bowl out if you only have one stand mixer bowl) on medium speed. Add the egg and continue to beat until incorporated.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and alternatively add the flour and the milk to the creamed sugar. Continue to beat on medium speed until a smooth, yellow batter is formed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the egg whites and the nuts. Grease a loaf pan and pour the batter into it. Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting into it. Trust me, it tastes better once it’s cooled.
So as on every other Sunday since I moved to DC, I got my copy of the Washington Post from my doorstep, made a cup of tea, gathered together my breakfast and turned on Meet the Press. It was sad not to see Tim’s face there, but it was moving to hear James Carville, Mary Matalin, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw and others share their stories of the man they knew not only as a newsman but as a friend. Tim, you will truly be missed.