Blood Orange Poppy Seed Bread


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I had the last blood oranges of the season, and I wanted to make sure that whatever I baked would be worthy of them, so I adapted this wonderful lemon poppy seed bread recipe from amyBITES and hoped for the best. I’d already adapted it VERY slightly to make Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread, so I figured it was a safe bet even if was going to change things up even more. Also, this time I had vanilla bean paste, which I’ve never used before but bought on a whim, and saw it was listed as an option in the ingredients.

vanilla bean paste

I started by prepping the blood oranges, not just to speed up the process once I got started but also to make sure I’d have enough to work with.

zest and juice

Later, Nathaniel ate what was left of that zested but not juiced blood orange. He had no idea you could just eat them as is and was amazed by their strange, sweet-sour flavor. (Also he likes the BLOODyness of them.)

Once my ingredients were prepped, I rolled up my sleeves and started in. I didn’t want to change the all purpose flour, as I wanted to keep things light, but I swapped out half a cup of it (out of the 1 1/2 total) for wheat germ. Risky, I know, but I know from experience that wheat germ can go beautifully with blood oranges. To that I added baking powder and salt, and whisked.

dry ingredients

dry ingredients, whisked

I set that aside and pulled out the stand mixer. In went butter, sugar (pure cane instead of white), and the blood orange zest. The recipe called for a tablespoon, but I definitely used more than that.

butter, sugar, and zest

I put the mixer on medium speed. Look at the difference in what you get without and then with the flash. It teaches me that the capture of movement is all about light.



I added the eggs and Greek yogurt, beating after each item (each egg, or yogurt) went in.

with eggs and Greek yogurt

Okay, full confession. I beat in each of the eggs and THEN saw that I was supposed to have put in the yogurt first. It all worked out fine, though. Next I put in the vanilla bean paste. It’s gooier than vanilla extract, and the smell is stronger, too.

adding vanilla bean paste

I mixed well. Then I alternated adding flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour, until everything was mixed in and I had a consistent texture. It was finally looking like batter instead of liquid.

adding flour


I took the bowl away from the mixer, and added the juice (plus an extra tablespoon) and the poppy seeds.

adding juice and poppy seeds


I poured (and scraped and coddled) it into a prepared loaf pan. Mindful of the baking time when I made this with lemons, I set the timer for 40 minutes. I checked at 38, it seemed close, and once again, at 40 minutes, it was perfect.

cake in pan

I let it sit for another ten minutes, then flipped it on to a wire rack. It came out of the pan perfectly.

loaf on rack

And the verdict? Lovely. Popular at work and at home. Nathaniel even took some to school for snack twice in a row, no doubt puzzling his 4th grade colleagues. It’s a far cry from a Pepperidge Farm goldfish cracker.

In fact, Nathaniel just informed me that the other kids at school started trading him their snacks for bites of his blood orange poppy seed bread. I asked if he was just trying to make me feel good but he swears that he was able to score 3 Oreos for one little taste, and all the kids were asking for more.  He insists it was a big hit.


My variation: Blood Orange Poppy Seed Bread (adapted from amyBITES)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 (scant) cup cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons blood orange zest
1/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup 1% milk
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Spray or line a loaf pan and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and blood orange zest together at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt, then the eggs, one at a time, being sure to mix well after each. Beat in the vanilla bean paste.

Mix in the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating between them, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Once done, remove the bowl from the stand mixer.

Stir in the blood orange juice and poppy seeds, then pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 35-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for another 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack.

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