From rum-laced banana bread to mini cranberry panettone and fruit-filled stollen, festive yeast breads make perfect holiday gifts.
Mix the batter only until the dry ingredients disappear. (Lumps are normal.) Overmixing causes tough or misshapen loaves.
Try this bread sandwiched with ham and apple slices, or cut it into cubes and toast it to make croutons for salads and soups.
Day-old scones are firm enough to slice open without crumbling. Tuck in a few paper-thin slices of country ham for an unforgettable ham "biscuit."
Cranberry-Orange BreadForget French pastry. This sweet holiday tea bread, topped with a Grand Marnier glaze and laced with cranberries, orange zest, and butter, is major league amazing. Even better, it's make-ahead friendly and freezes perfectly. Bake two large loaves or six small ones.
Christmas StollenStollen is a traditional German Christmas yeast bread that's filled with dried fruit and topped with a sugary glaze and candied cherries. It's usually shaped into a folded oval and is a welcomed gift during the holidays.
Mini Cranberry PanettonesThis version of the sweet Italian yeast bread called panettone is made in muffin tins to streamline the baking process. Tuck these little cranberry-studded gems into holiday decorated plastic bags or colorful Chinese take-out cartons and give to neighbors, teachers, or friends.
Freezer Cinnamon RollsGooey cinnamon rolls are tricked out with an extra special filling of toasted pecans, cinnamon, and dried fruit. But their best feature: the rolls go from freezer to oven in just 30 minutes. Perfect for make-ahead holiday breakfasts or gift giving.
JulekageTypically baked with candied citrus rind and either spiced apples or dried fruit (our choice), this rich Scandinavian sweet bread is then crowned with a sweet, snowy-white glaze.
Sugar-Frosted Cardamom BraidLike yeast breads in Scandinavia, this beautiful braided loaf is scented with spicy-sweet cardamom, an aromatic spice used in baked goods and curries. A little lemon zest adds more lush flavor, and then the sweet, easy-to-make bread is frosted with sugar.
Mini Pumpkin Spice LoavesPerfect for gift giving, these mini loaves have just the right balance of holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Top the loaves with cream cheese icing before giving or wrap un-iced loaves individually and present with a small jar of icing.
Southern Soda BreadThis hearty bread is simple and quick to make, so prepare extra and share with friends. Present each loaf by wrapping in plastic wrap and then in a festive kitchen towel. Tie with colorful ribbon or raffia then round out the gift by adding a jar of sweet preserves.
Pecan-Topped Pumpkin BreadSo, don't expect any leftovers with this easy holiday tea bread made with canned pumpkin. Wrap it first in plastic, then orange tissue, and tie with a chocolate colored ribbon.
Potato-Sour Cream BiscuitsLine a pretty basket with decorative linens then pile high with these tender and flaky biscuits. Gather the linen at the top and tie with a festive bow before presenting to neighbors or friends.
- Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley and Kathryn Conrad
Coconut Banana Bread with Lime GlazeTake a walk on the tropical side for the holidays with this oh, so good banana bread. Laced with dark rum and coconut, it's crowned with a tart lime glaze. Gift wrap with a funky holiday kitchen towel and tie with red string licorice.
Mini Fruit and Sunflower LoavesSneak these cute little fruit and sunflower seed loaves onto co-workers' desks for a holiday surprise. With a scoop of cornmeal and a splash of maple syrup, they're a sweet-savory combination that's bound to win over even picky eaters.
Golden Pumpkin-Walnut LoafSugar and spice and everything nice come together in this simple but unusual pumpkin-walnut tea loaf. Spices include cardamom, ginger, and mace instead of the usual cinnamon, so make it for friends and family that like a taste of adventure with their holiday flavor.
Pumpkin-Cranberry MuffinsAlways a hit at holiday brunch, these moist pumpkin muffins are studded with dried cranberries for a sweet and tangy flavor. For gift giving, line a holiday craft box with parchment. Add a bundle of plastic-wrapped muffins, top with the lid, and tie shut with raffia.
Panettone (Italian Christmas Bread)This sweet cylinder-shaped bread is similar to a fruitcake and traditionally served during the holidays in italy.
Chocolate-Filled BunsIf eating chocolate-filled croissants is one of your favorite holiday memories, you'll want to try this healthier recipe featuring a soft whole wheat bun and a reduced-fat chocolate filling.
Cinnamon-Date-Pecan Rolls with Maple GlazeThese extra-special cinnamon rolls are enhanced with both dates and pecans and make a perfect offering for a holiday breakfast or brunch.
Fig-Walnut Sticky BunsMake warm sticky buns a part of your family holiday tradition if they aren't already. Dried figs and chopped walnuts give these extra flavor and crunch.
Cinnamon Crisp-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut BreadThe sugary, cinnamon-scented streusel topping turns plain banana bread into a holiday treat that's perfect for breakfast or brunch. Or wrap up a loaf and a give it as a gift.
Praline Pull-Apart BreadStart with frozen bread roll dough to create this impressive sweet holiday breakfast treat.
Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel BunsCinnamon rolls take on a whole new holiday flavor with the addition of pureed pumpkin and nutmeg.