Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
Bake and freeze for Christmas giving
The older you grow the longer the sweet tooth. Every elderly person that I know would rather have something sweet as a gift than anything I, or they, can think of. Cookies are always most welcome and so are sweet breads. The only problem with sweet breads is that a large loaf and single person is a lesson in eternity.
Fortunately, the small aluminum loaf pans are inexpensive and easy to find in any grocery store. It is nice to bake an assortment of quick breads in these small pans and freeze them. Keeping your own hungry hands off of the baked-ahead gifts is not easy. But, when Christmas bells start ringing you can package two or three tasty little loaves together, wrap them in cellophane with a pretty ribbon, and give a gift that your friends can enjoy anytime that sweet tooth starts to ache.
If you are making this for your own use, reserve a little of the strawberry juice and gradually beat it into cream cheese. You can slice the bread thin and use the cream cheese as a filling for dainty sandwiches. Or, just spread as you would butter on a slice of the pretty bread.
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour 2 regular loaf pans or 6 small loaf pans. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat together eggs and vegetable oil, berries and all except 1/2 cup of the juice. Add to dry ingredients, stirring gently only until moistened. Fold in pecans. Pour into baking pans and bake for 35 minutes for small loaves, 1 hour for regular loaves, or until done. Let loaves cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. Finish cooling on racks.
Cranberry Orange Almond Bread
The cranberries make this bread look and taste "Christmassy."
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a regular loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg together into a bowl. Cream butter with sugar and vanilla. Add zest, eggs and orange juice until combined. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened. Do not overmix. Fold in cranberries and almonds and scrape into pans. Bake 35 minutes for small pans, 55 to 60 minutes for a regular loaf, or until done. Cool 10 minutes on rack before removing from pan(s). Cool at least 2 hours before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap or foil.
Toasted Hazelnut Bread
A firm-textured German quick bread densely laced with toasted hazelnuts.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease and flour a regular loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans. Place nuts in a pan and bake in 375 F. oven until golden under skin, about 10 minutes. Pour nuts onto a towel and rub briskly to remove as much skin as possible. Let nuts cool about 5 minutes, then lift from towel; discard skins. In a food processor or blender, whirl nuts until finely ground. In a bowl, mix nuts, both flours, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda, nutmeg, salt and pepper. In another bowl beat egg to blend with buttermilk and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir just to evenly moisten. Batter will be very thick. Scrape into prepared pan(s) and bake regular loaf about 45 minutes; small loaves about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack about 15 minutes. Invert loaf onto rack and let cool at least 1 hour.
You can substitute dates for the apricots, or use both in this tasty treat. The raisins can be omitted, or currents can be substituted. Golden raisins are nice in this bread.
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Soak apricots in water to cover for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour 1 regular loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans. Squeeze juice from orange and add enough boiling water to make 1 cup. Put orange skins, drained apricots and raisins through food chopper twice. Cream butter and sugar; add vanilla and beat in egg. Add fruit mixture and nuts. Stir in sifted dry ingredients alternately with orange juice mixture. Scrape into pan(s) and bake large loaf about 50 to 60 minutes; small loaves about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack about 10 minutes; invert onto rack and let cool at least 1 hour until cool, before wrapping foil or plastic wrap.
Don't loaf around, put on your Santa hat and turn on the oven!