Chocolate Chunk Orange Bread

I’ve been baking for pretty much as far back as I can remember. In fact, I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb with oven mitts on my teeny, tiny hands. Awww, cutest mental image ever. In all seriousness, though, I have been baking for what feels like forever. My mom introduced me to the beauty that is making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies when I was still a pocket-sized version of my current self, and it was love at first cracked egg.

Okay, so I wasn’t actually allowed to crack the eggs back then (can you imagine what kind of digestive distress that would have caused?!?), but I’m pretty sure I gave the batter a couple of good stirs, and at the very least, ate threw in the chocolate chips. Oh, and no one was better than me when it came to making sure that our treats didn’t spend too long in the oven and wind up getting burnt. That was my specialty. Just sayin’.

Fast forward a couple a few many years, and here I am all grown up and still baking — cracking my own eggs and everything. I like to think that I’m pretty good at what I do (baking, not cracking eggs… although I can do that pretty well too), but there are still a few key things I need to tackle.

For example, I’ve never baked a cake from scratch (thank you, Betty Crocker!), and don’t even talk to me about dressing one up all fancy — I’m pretty sure you need a degree for that… or at the very least, more patience than I possess. Me? I like to keep things simple and just dig right in…

I’ve also never baked a loaf of bread because, quite frankly, working with yeast intimidates me. Mixing it with water, kneading the dough, keeping it warm, leaving it to rise… There are too many steps and too many chemical reactions that could potentially blow up in my face. Or, you know, simply not rise to the occasion.

Seriously, though… I have nightmares of biting into a hockey puck that resembles a bun, chipping a tooth, and having to make an emergency visit to the dentist. Have I ever told you that I’m terrified of the dentist? Because I am… But I digress. The point is… yeast breads are a no-go for now, but quick breads? Those I can do; and do well.

Banana breads have always been my favourite, but I have a feeling that part of that has to do with the fact that I put them on a pedestal since they were a bit of a rarity when I was growing up. I actually have vivid memories of my mom telling me that we couldn’t make banana bread because the bananas “weren’t ripe enough,” which I thought was just another way of saying “I don’t feel like baking; go play with your Legos.” It turns out she was right, though — unripe bananas don’t make good bread; but oranges and chocolate do!

I’m serious. If you ever find yourself craving a quick bread with no spotty bananas in sight, or simply needing something a little different, then this is the loaf for you.

The slightly crisp outer ‘crust’ gives way to a ridiculously moist interior that tantalizes your tastebuds with a hint of orange flavour before bursting with chocolate. Each bite then goes on to melt in your mouth and lead to the utterance of all sorts of inappropriate noises. But don’t take my word for it! This is something you need to experience for yourself!

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