My all-time favorite food gifts are quick breads, whether in the form of loaves or muffins. For gift-giving, you can put them in decorative pastry boxes or wrap them in cellophane, tied with a ribbon, and place them in a cute basket. They are versatile too. They can be eaten immediately or frozen for later. Quick breads can be breakfast, snack, or dessert. Sweet or savory. Healthy or indulgent. But almost always, they are quick and easy to make. To be honest, quick breads are my favorite holiday gifts because they are my favorite baked goods and it's just an excuse to make several different kinds at once. One for you, one for me...
Banana nut muffins and blueberry muffins are favorites with most people. Even people who claim to hate pumpkin have enjoyed my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. If I remembered to put some zucchini in the freezer during the summer, then you can bet someone will be getting zucchini bread. During the holidays, I also like to make recipes that include the traditional ingredients: cranberries, orange, lemon, dried fruits, and nuts. Cranberry orange bread. Lemon poppy seed bread with a sugary lemon glaze. Oh.my.goodness.
Of course, coffee cakes make good gifts too. My favorite is chocolate chip coffee cake. Actually, it's the only coffee cake I ever make and I save it for special occasions. Nothing says special occasion like a cake made with butter, cream cheese, and chocolate chips, topped with cinnamon-sugar and pecans. If you lack self-control, do not make this. Consider yourself warned. If you would prefer something that is a little less rich, the following recipe may fit the bill.
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
(slightly adapted from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup rapadura (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 lg. egg
1 cup (8 oz) plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients only until moistened. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Spoon a third of the batter into a greased 8"x4" loaf pan. Top with a third of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Repeat layers twice. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Do you give food gifts during the holidays? Or would you rather receive food? What is your favorite holiday food gift?
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