Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 1-lb. loaf pan.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange zest, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the water, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted, about 1 minute. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir and toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, milk and reserved orange mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Stir in nuts (optional).
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the orange syrup: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and orange juice. Set aside, stirring occasionally; don’t worry if the sugar does not dissolve completely.
Remove the bread from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack. Using a fork, gently poke the top in several places. Stir the syrup, then slowly drizzle it over the hot bread. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series,Muffins & Quick Breads,by John Phillip Carroll (Time-Life Books, 1993).
Date: December 16, 2002