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Quick Breads, Easy Presents

Martha Stewart Living, Volume 133 December 2004

When done with a little flair, a small gesture is much more meaningful. Look, for example, at the quick bread. It takes almost no time to make -- quick breads don't require rising or kneading -- but can be a wonderful gift for a hostess or a neighbor.

Quick breads are quick because they're yeast-free; the batter is mixed and put straight into the oven, with baking soda, baking powder, or eggs to give it lift. (Baking powder should be no more than a year old; baking soda, however, will last about three years, as long as it's protected from humidity.) The result is something that seems more like cake than bread (think classic banana bread). The flavors, often sweet, can also be savory.

All are ideal gifts. They taste good and look good, particularly when prettily packaged. Offering quick breads to friends with such care is more than a small gesture. It is a personal one, showing the best sentiments of the season. Give one of these delicious homemade breads as a special holiday present:

Chocolate Marble Bread with Ganache
Carrot and Dried-Currant Muffins
Rosemary Cornbread

It's a Wrap
Try these simple packaging ideas -- they're as easy as the breads themselves. Present muffins in the tin they were baked in, with any drips wiped off, of course. Wrap it in a cellophane bag and then in linen with frayed edges; tie on a tag -- and the recipe if you like -- with twill tape. Bake cornbread in wooden molds, which then serve as gift boxes (they can't be reused for baking). Cover bread in cellophane, then put in a loaf box from a baking-supply store and wrap with loose-weave cotton fabric and sewing thread. Bake bread in a can and cover with rounds of waxed paper, then a round of tissue paper or striped cotton; the whole is neatly tied with waxed-linen thread.

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