Fresh bread - an important part of any brunch menu

Entertaining family and friends at brunch is fun for the hostess as well as the guests, partly because the timing can be so casual. It can be served anywhere from 9 a.m. to noon and the menu may vary from very simple breakfast dishes such as bacon and eggs to exotic platters of shrimp fritters or stuffed figs.

Be sure to include your favorite seasonal fruits in the menu because of their color and attractiveness as much as for flavor.

Also be sure that the menu includes an interesting kind of fresh bread or muffins. Nothing makes the house more hospitable than the aroma of home-baked bread.

Choose of the many breads that don't take a long time to make. They will be fresh and attractive and especially welcome because they are from your own kitchen.

Skillet Bread has a place in history. Cooks who crossed the country in a Conestoga wagon knew how to prepare it whenever they could pull out their frypans. Skillet Bread 2 cups flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons salt 1 1/4 cups milk 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is spongy.

Heat butter or margarine in a 10-inch skilet. Keep heat low and do not brown. Be sure butter is evenly spread on pan.

Add batter and cook 15 minutes, or until bottom side is golden brown. Use a large spatula to lift and turn. Cook 15 minutes more.

Serve on a round platter spread with butter and jelly. Serves 4 to 6.

This bacon batter bread uses baking powder instead of yeast and requires no kneading at all. Bacon Bread 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons baking powder 2/3 cup sugar 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter 1 egg, beaten 1 cup milk 1/2 cup crumbled crisp bacon 1/4 cup bacon drippings

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in peanut butter, egg and milk. The mixture will be fairly stiff.

Add bacon and drippings, making sure that bacon is well distributed in dough. Pour batter into a well-greased 9-by-5-by-2-inch loaf pan. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes in oven preheated to 350 degrees F. Cool on a rack. Slice just before serving.

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