A Customizable Quick Bread for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Bake
Play with a loaf that plays along
One of the most beautiful things about the holidays is that all our conventional markers blur. Lazy mornings stretch on. People drop by unexpectedly. Tea and coffee are made. You play cards and Monopoly and do the crossword. You stay in your jammies all day. Appropriately, the line between breakfast and lunchtime—breakfast and dessert, too—blurs. There are the cinnamon rolls and French toasts and leftover slices of pie, all breakfasty indeed, but it's the quick bread that best occupies this middle space. Good in your jammies, good with coffee, and good with company, quick breads are far more cake than bread. They are, for the most part, decidedly sweet, tender and moist, and leavened not with yeast but with baking powder or soda or both. And they bake up so quickly and with so little fussing that they're ideal for last-minute holiday brunches and gifts for your hosts or coworkers—even if you're "not a baker."
Let's talk for a minute more about their fusslessness: Quick bread recipes are hard to mess up, which means you can play and play and play, and your resulting loaf will be, more often than not, happy to play along. Use the recipe below as a base to take your bread from lemon poppyseed to panettone-inflected to classic banana. Want something more chocolatey? Substitute cocoa powder for some of the flour, strong coffee for some of the milk, and add a big handful of chocolate chips. If you're looking for something whole-grainy, use whole wheat flour, buttermilk, and the smallest amount of sugar, and then add nuts and seeds to your heart's content. (And don't forget to play!)
More Things to Play With
Spices (think cinnamon, nutmeg, five-spice, allspice, ground ginger—and start slow)
Espresso powder (especially good with chocolate—and in banana bread)
Zests (start with the zest of two lemons, limes, or tangerines, or one grapefruit or navel orange)
Additions of nut butter or tahiniSwirls of jamLayers of streusel
Top the whole thing off with glazes!
A few suggestions to get you going:
All-purpose flour + whole wheat flour + coconut oil + coconut flakes + almond extract + almond milk
Whole wheat flour + olive oil + tangerine zest + currants
All-purpose flour + rye flour + brown butter + brown sugar + oats + pumpkin seeds.