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Holiday Quick Breads Bake Up, Gift Up In Record Time

Photo by Nora Edinger The whole berries, walnuts and orange zest in Cranberry-Orange Bread will have your kitchen smelling like Christmas in no time and with surprisingly little work. And, if you’re willing to share, making this recipe in mini-loaf pans will yield five loaves per batch.

WHEELING — If you’re a diehard baker of pecan lassies, roshkis, pizzelles or sugar cookies with elaborate icing, you might want to stop reading now. (That’s if you’re not already elbow deep in flour, eggs and baking equipment and never started reading in the first place.)

For those of you who are longing for some homemade Christmas goodness in your kitchen — but, who’d rather break a finger than roll out chilled dough or dredge dozens of creamy tidbits in powdered sugar one at a time — you’re in luck.

Holiday quick breads are an easy, colorful and tasty way to celebrate the season. They can go from mixing to baking to sharing last-minute gifts all over the Friendly City in record time.

And, if you make mini loaves, they slice up to — wait for it — cookie size!

Here are three recipes from the Wheeling Newspapers test kitchen that incorporate all sorts of harvest and holiday flavors and platter-worthy colors.

(Cost-cutting tip for all recipes: “Disposable” mini-loaf pans can actually be soaked, hand washed and used multiple times. Production tip: Put mini-loafs into the oven sideways so they don’t slip on the racks and bake up at an angle.)

CRANBERRY-

ORANGE BREAD

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans OR five mini-loaf pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Mix thoroughly. Stir in 2 cups whole cranberries (can be fresh or frozen, but keep them whole as this is much prettier and adds bursts of tart flavor to contrast with the sweetness of the bread), 1 cup walnut pieces and the zest of one large orange.

In a smaller bowl, combine two eggs (beaten), 1 ½ cups orange juice (include the juice from the zested orange), 2 teaspoons lemon juice (increases the acid to help reduce the bluish-green chemical reaction between the berries and baking soda) and 4 Tablespoons of flavorless oil such as canola (or unsweetened applesauce to save calories).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just moistened throughout. Divide into prepared pans and bake 50-60 minutes or until loaves are a rich brown on top and a cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. (The cake tester is especially important when using full-sized loaf pans. Under-baked quick breads will be gooey in the middle.)

Cool in pans for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to room temperature. Store at room temp for short term, refrigerate for longer term. Loaves can also be wrapped in waxed paper and a zippered bag for freezer storage.

Serve alone or with cream cheese or orange marmalade.

CARROT CONFETTI

BREAD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two full-sized loaf pans OR five mini-loaf pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups grated carrot, 2 cups raisins, 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1 cup water, 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional, but good) and 2 bananas (mashed). Add 4 eggs and mix well. Add 4 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons baking soda and blend well.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to room temperature.

Store at room temp for short term, refrigerate for longer term. Loaves can also be wrapped in waxed paper and a zippered bag for freezer storage.

This bread is good alone and with cream cheese.

PUMPKIN APPLE BREAD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two full-sized loaf pans OR five mini-loaf pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking soda. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, combine 2 cups (about 1 can) unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, 5 eggs, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Mix well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and hand stir just until mixed. Divide into prepared pans and bake 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a loaf comes out clean.

Cool in pans for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to room temperature. Store at room temp for short term, refrigerator for longer term. Can also be wrapped in waxed paper and a zippered bag for freezer storage.

Enjoy alone or with apple butter or cream cheese.

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