Back to the Kitchen: Give Heartfelt Gifts with Homemade Holiday Breads

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Thanksgiving is over, so now it’s full speed ahead to Christmas and Hanukkah! If you have just a little time, you can use it to make quick holiday breads. These almost dessert breads are great for gifts, family gatherings or with afternoon tea! Each recipe will make one loaf (unless otherwise noted) and four minis. You can order pans at Kitchen Kraft at or at Etsy.  A pretty ribbon and a handwritten note make this gift a true expression of holiday cheer! (And don’t forget, if you want to make homemade liquor, see my article from a couple weeks ago).

Give from the heart with sweet mini-breads.

Salted Caramel Apple Bread

2 cups flour

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4-teaspoon salt

1/4-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4-teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/2-cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 large eggs

3 cups apples, cored, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves; set aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. With mixer running on low, carefully add milk, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add dry ingredients then fold in chopped apples. Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Salted Caramel Glaze

1/4-cup butter

1/2-cup brown sugar

1/4-cup light corn syrup

1-teaspoon vanilla

1-teaspoon coarse sea salt

Place all ingredients in a pan and whisk together until it comes to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt. Pour hot glaze over cooled cake.

Holiday Gingerbread

1/2-cup butter

1/2-cup brown sugar

1-cup molasses

2 1/2 cup Flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp. soda dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

2 well-beaten eggs

Cream the butter with brown sugar, add molasses. Sift the spices with the flour. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture mix well. Add soda in boiling water then add the eggs last. Place in a buttered 9 x 13 pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Cranberry Orange Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4-cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon salt

1/4-cup butter

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries, leave a few whole

1/2 cup chopped glace green cherries (optional)

Pre heat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Combine orange juice and grated rind with well-beaten eggs. Pour all at once into dry ingredients, mixing just enough to dampen. Dust chopped cranberries and cherries with a tablespoon of flour; carefully fold into batter. Spoon into a well-buttered 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle a few floured whole cranberries over top of batter. Bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in casserole 10 minutes, then remove. Frost with confectioner’s frosting, (sift 2 cups powder sugar, very slowly add boiling water, a tablespoon at a time, until right spreading consistency, spread on slightly cooled bread).

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1/4-cup butter, softened

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-cup buttermilk

1-tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1-cup sugar, and egg. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining 1/3-cup sugar. Pour a third of the batter into a sprayed loaf pan. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar on top of batter. Repeat layers twice. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Zucchini-Nut Bread

1-cup vegetable oil

1-cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

3 cups flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1-cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325, Oil two  5 x 9 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after every addition. Stir in the vanilla and zucchini. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the oil and the egg mixture until just moistened. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for about one hour, until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Strawberry Bread

4 cups flour

2-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

2-teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

3 eggs

3 cups fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

3/4-cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two  loaf pans with Baker’s Joy. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Gently stir in the strawberries using a wooden spoon. Stir in one third of flour. Add 1/4-cup sour cream. Repeat twice mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter into the two loaf pans. Smooth the top. Bake for one hour until a toothpick inserted in to the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool for 1/2 hour in pan and then remove and complete cooling on racks.

Lemon Rosemary Pound Cake

1-cup butter

2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped

3 teaspoons lemon zest

4 eggs

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup lemon juice

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, zest, and rosemary and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla. On low speed add flour baking powder and salt until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1-cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

3 cups pumpkin, cooked and pureed

Or 1 16-ounce can.

3 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon ground cloves

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon ground ginger

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon baking powder


4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds

1-teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9×5×3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Whisk flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Mix the topping ingredients together. Sprinkle over loaves. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.

Eggnog Bread

2 eggs, beaten

1-cup eggnog

2-table spoons rum extract

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1stick butter, softened

2 ¼ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan. Whisk together the eggs, eggnog, rum and vanilla extracts sugar, vanilla and butter. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add to the eggnog mixture and stir until just moisten and pour into prepared pan. Bake bread for 50 – 60 minutes until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.