Happy New Year, friends! I hope your midnights were filled with kisses and bubbles and all sorts of wonderful glittery things. We ate dinner with friends but were home in our pajamas eating cereal by 11:00 pm. It was GLORIOUS. I’m all about parties and fun, but it felt good to be comfortable enough to be tired and content at home. Count on more of that from me this year.
I always like to ask people what their New Year’s resolutions are, and in years past I’ve totally been one to produce a laundry list of goals. This year, instead of goals, I spent some time considering what types of things I wanted more of in 2019- what things would be productive and healthy inclusions to my coming 12 months? After loads of consideration (and, okay, a little list making), I want to share my ideas with you in hopes that you may be able to include some of these things in your own life. It felt good to be self-reflective in a loving, encouraging way, so I hope you get the opportunity to do so yourself. So here it is: my to-do list of sorts for 2019.
- Cook More Real Food. The end of 2018 saw me ordering lots of carry-out and fast food. I was exhausted from our pending move and decided to give myself a break by leaving dinners to someone else. But here’s the thing: I love to cook. In an effort to get back in my kitchen, I plan on joining Epicurious’ Cook 90 Challenge. They’ve mapped out ways to make it easier to prepare fresh, real food three times a day for an entire month. Even if I only end up cooking 75 or so meals this month, I’ll consider that a victory.
- Take Better Care of Me. When you’re a mom of two toddlers, self-care can go down the drain quickly. I spend a lot of time with greasy hair and unshaven legs because I’m really just kinda tired. My dear friend recently became really passionate about the benefits of clean skincare, so I decided to invest in a few new products that I knew were good for my body from the outside in. If this whole thing is new to you too, you can check out Follain online, which is kinda like the Sephora of clean beauty. Two of my favorite products so far are this nighttime moisturizer and this rosehip oil. I may still have fuzzy legs, but it feels good to know I’m taking a little better care of me
- Get Organized. Ok, this looks totally different for everyone. I know you’ve heard me ramble on about decluttering and my favorite day planners, but I wanted to do a little extra at the beginning of this year to stay tidy. For me, that meant closet and drawer organization. I purchased brand new velvet hangers online and invested in several sets of plastic drawer organizers. Now my closet look streamlined and my chip clips, measuring spoons, bobby pins all have a home in my drawers. I don’t know what getting organized would look like in your life, but I think that it’s sometimes healthy to have a little method to our madness.
- Spend Time Connecting. Look- 2019 was weird, y’all. I felt out of sorts and insecure and really kinda lonely at times. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone in this. So in 2019, I want to be more connected. For me, this means more one-on-one conversations with dear friends and more date nights with my husband. It means more time playing on the floor with my kids instead of shooing them away. It means more time praying and more time spent telling people why I love them. A simple way to get connected? Engage in an out-of-the-box manner. I’ve long been a fan of snail mail, and I’d encourage you to consider taking time to write a note to someone you love. I adore Kate Spade notecards like these, and I have purchased multiple sets of custom watercolor stationary from my artist friend here. Put your phone down and spend some time loving someone- it’s always worth loving a little harder.
- Read More. There’s a million different studies that have been done on the benefits of reading. My goal to read more began simply from wanting to be a better writer here on this space. I have literally zero clue where to begin reading again, but I think I’m going to start with Oprah’s book club. I’ve heard rave reviews about this month’s addition (Michelle Obama’s book!) and I can’t wait to get started.
- Challenge Yourself. I think we sometimes have the tendency to play it safe. We stay on the sidelines because the possibility of failure seems kinda scary or just downright depressing. I’m planning to challenge myself more in the kitchen this year. I don’t want to stray away from recipes or skills that seem outside of my wheelhouse simply because I think I’ll fail. I want to be better! So count on me deboning whole chickens, cooking more seafood, and experimenting more with from-scratch recipe development. 100% I’m going to fail sometimes, but my bet is that I’ll surprise myself a little too and that will feel awesome. For a baking challenge, I’d encourage you to check out my cinnamon bread, tiramisu profiteroles, or maybe even today’s recipe: orange swirl bread.
I actually developed this recipe for orange swirl bread for Southern Cast Iron last year. My image landed on the cover (!!!) and I have been waiting for the right time to share the recipe on this site. If you didn’t buy the magazine when it was out (how dare you, btw), you’ll finally have the chance to take a stab at this recipe yourself right here from the comfort of this site!
This orange swirl bread is an airy yeast bread with orange zest, cinnamon, and sugar spiraled in the center. The dough is rolled, braided, and formed into a wreath before it’s baked in a cast iron skillet. Once golden and baked, the bread is drizzled with an orange glaze that makes the otherwise mild bread just a touch sweet. I like to serve wedges of this bread for breakfast and snack on little edge pieces in the evening as dessert. My children love feasting on this in the morning, and honestly, it’s just so beautiful that I’m really proud to serve it to anyone. You know?
Spend some time reading through the instructions for this orange swirl bread before you get started. The rising process takes time and you certainly don’t want to rush it. In a pinch, you can bake the loaf, freeze it, and rewarm to serve with the glaze at a later date. I think it tastes best warmed, but there’s no shame in grabbing a room temp piece on the go.
I can’t wait to spend more time with you all this year. I’ve got a ton of ideas and I can’t wait to connect with more of you. So happy new year, happy January, and as always, happy baking. Cheers!
If you like this orange swirl bread you should check out:
Orange Swirl Bread
This orange swirl bread has a cinnamon sugar and orange zest filling and is topped with an orange glaze. The bread is an airy braided yeast loaf!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 240
- Yield: 1 Loaf 1x
- Category: Bread
For the dough:
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk, lukewarm
- ¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
- 2–1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
- ½ cup (100 gm) sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- ½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature.
For the glaze:
- 1 cup (120 gm) confectioner’s sugar
- 2–3 tablespoons orange juice
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk and half of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the milk and allow the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes. The mixture should froth and foam slightly. You can stir it gently to make sure all the yeast has been moistened, but if the yeast does not foam, dump it out and start over. Once the yeast has been activated, stir in the remaining sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour into the milk mixture. Add 1 egg and the salt and stir to combine. On low speed, add the remaining flour and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Once evenly combined, increase the speed to medium (I use speed number 4 on my KitchenAid stand mixer) and add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then continue to beat on medium speed for an additional 4 minutes or until the dough is moist, sticky, and slightly stretchy.
- Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough inside, covering it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot in the kitchen until it has approximately doubled in size, about 1-1/2-2 hours.
- Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12”x18” rectangle on a lightly floured surface. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest for the filling. Use the back of a fork to cut in the butter, smooshing it together to make a thick paste/spread. Spread this mixture evenly over top of the rolled out dough.
- Starting with one of the long ends, roll the dough somewhat tightly into one long tube and pinch the ends of the dough to seal in the filling. Use a sharp knife to slice down the middle of the length of the dough, leaving one inch at the top of one of the ends uncut. You should end with two strands of rolled dough connected by a 1” chunk of dough at the top (this will serve as the starting point for your braid, so you want the dough to remain connected here). Turn the exposed innards of the dough roll to face upwards and then twist the dough, right over left, right over left, until the entire length of dough has been twisted into one long piece. Join the ends of the dough to make a ring, pinching the ends together slightly. Carefully transfer the ring of dough into a lightly greased 10” cast-iron skillet. Cover the skillet with a piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Once the oven is preheated and the loaf has risen slight (about 40 minutes), stir the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush a thin layer of the mixture over the surface of the dough. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and golden brown throughout. Allow to cool slightly.
- Once cooled slightly, combine the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Add additional sugar, if desired, to thicken it up or extra juice to thin it out. Drizzle over top of the bread and serve. Bread is best served warm and will keep covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.