There's still plenty of holiday left, people

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EC: 5 Bread Recipes to Master Before 2016 Is Over
Credit: Photo by Dennis Evans via Getty Images

Folks, there is still so very much holiday to get through. Parties to attend, get-togethers to get to, merry to be made. You have at least a little time off this week, right? May as well get good at baking bread. It’s not just a thoughtful, warm-hearted, handmade gift to give to your host, or serve to your own guests—making bread is just a great life skill to have. Once you can make bread for yourself, even sweet little quick breads, so long as you have flour and fat on hand, you can cobble together something excellent to eat, and make your home smell heavenly to boot. Get started with a few of our favorite bread recipes.

Extra-Customizable Quick Bread for Any Occasion

As frequent Extra Crispy contributor Caroline Lange wisely notes, it’s really hard to screw up quick bread. Since they don’t rely on yeast for a rise, they’re incredibly forgiving, and endlessly adaptable. Once you get comfy with her easy formula for a basic quick bread (seriously, that’ll take about five minutes), you can make the loaves all your own with additions from fruit to spices to nuts to chocolate and beyond. Don’t dig dairy or feel a particular way about your sweeteners or flour? This method has you covered. You just need to bring the fun.

Breakfast Monkey Bread

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There is no actual monkey called for in a monkey bread recipe. Huzzah. Rather, it’s an incredibly fun and Pinterest-popular bread with a killer shortcut. While you could indeed go to the effort of making it all from scratch, just have fun and get acquainted with working with dough by popping open a few cans of store-bought biscuits. In many recipes, the chunks of dough are stacked up and drizzled with something sweet to turn them into a sticky, pull-apart tower, but in this twist, blogger and cookbook author Rachel Hollis adds tater tots, cheese, and a savory gravy for dipping.

Avocado Bread

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Credit: Photo by Alex tepper

You’ve smeared your share of avocados onto every carb imaginable, but have you ever thought of baking it right on in? Mind blown, right? Extra Crispy’s chef Jiselle Basile came up with this brilliant method for adding natural sweetness and creaminess to quick bread by incorporating avocado into the batter from the get go. Try it, and suddenly the idea of plain old banana bread will seem completely, uh, bananas.

Shakshuka Focaccia

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There’s no need to stress out over working with yeast in this focaccia recipe—mostly because it’s no knead. Breads Bakery has earned a cult following over the years, especially for their chocolate babka, but this Israeli-Italian shakshuka-topped focaccia mashup has its share of devotees as well. Not gonna lie, this recipe is pretty time consuming, but it feeds a good-sized crowd, which just means that you’ll be making a whole bunch more people’s holidays brighter with your breadmaking prowess.

Apple-Stuffed Challah

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It used to be that challah was customarily a Sabbath bread, but in recent decades, the eggy, sweet, yeast-raised loaves have become popular throughout the week—especially as a component of the best French toast imaginable. It’s perfect with a simple smear of good butter, and simply transcendent when it’s melded with the elements of a cinnamon roll to create cookbook author Rosie Daykin’s seasonal apple-stuffed rendition.