One of the few nice things about winter is that citrus is in season: grapefruit, tangerines, mandarin oranges, even kumquats. Any and all of those can perk up even the darkest, dreariest day. Usually, I like to just eat them out of hand – especially cute little kumquats with their very sweetly edible skins! – but this time I decided to see what would happen if I stirred fresh mandarin segments into a quick bread batter. Would they just turn to mush upon baking, leaving behind a wet, uncooked blob of batter?
As you can see, the answer is that the segments maintain their shape quite nicely when you bake them. You can’t overload the batter with too many of the juicy segments, but part of the fun of including them is the thrill of the chance of getting a slice with a big wedge of mandarin in it. If you want to be sure that every slice will, you could do some strategic push-and-poke segmenting right before popping the loaf into the oven. I decided to just stir as usual and take my chances.
3/4 cup brown rice flour*
3/4 cup sorghum flour*
1/2 cup milllet or amaranth flour*
1/4 cup granulated honey OR sucanat (or 1/2 cup, if you’re aiming for a sweet bread)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 mandarin orange or tangerine, split into its natural segments
3/4 cup whole-milk plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil OR unrefined almond oil (both go well with citrus)
3 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a glass loaf pan (about 9â€³x5â€³) and set aside. I like to drizzle a bit of the olive oil into the loaf pan, then use my fingertips to spread the oil on the bottom and all of the sides. Any oil left on my hands gets rubbed into them. Why waste a nice hand moisturizer?
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, granulated honey, baking soda and powder, and salt. Gently stir in the mandarin segments.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir well – but gently, for the sake of the segments! – to combine. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If the top seems to be browning too fast, tent it with aluminum foil and continue baking until the loaf passes the toothpick test.
Let cool for at least 20 minutes before sliding the loaf out of the pan. I like to let both loaf and pan cool separately until both are completely cool, and then I put the loaf back into the pan for safekeeping. Note that you can only leave this loaf out at room temp for about 3 days – any longer, and the mandarin segments will start to ferment. Store the loaf in the fridge if you don’t finish it within a day or two.
* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d rather make a wheat-based version, use a total of 2 cups of whole-wheat, kamut, or spelt flours instead.