Quick breads: out of the oven and onto the table with a variety of simple, delicious, no-knead recipes

Quick breads are so versatile. Just out of the oven, they're welcome at any meal - especially to round out a skimpy menu. Serve to drop-in guests with a hot or cold beverage.

Your contribution to a potluck meal could be a loaf or two of your favorite bread. Just slice, butter, and fan out on an attractive serving platter. You can also send a loaf home with a departing guest.

If you've been invited for dinner, bring along a loaf for the host family to enjoy. Contribute a loaf to the bake sale at school, surprise the just-come-home new mother, or bring one to the office for a morning break.

There are many varieties to make, but here are a few that should appeal to almost everyone.

If convenient, double or triple the ingredients and bake two or three loaves at a time. That way you always have a spare loaf or two in the freezer for backup.

Prepare standard-size 9 by 5-inch loaf pans by lining sides and bottom with a continuous strip of wax paper, leaving an overhang of 2 1/2 to 3 inches on each side.

Grease sides or spray with a no-stick spray. When bread has cooled on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, run a knife across each end, tug gently on both side overlaps simultaneously, and lift out of pan to rack to finish cooling.

Maple Syrup Raisin Nut Bread

1 cup boiling water

1 cup chopped raisins

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup whole wheat flour

Pour boiling water over raisins and butter and stir until butter melts. Add beaten egg, syrup, and nuts. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl and pour over liquid mixture. Stir until just dampened. Bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour.

Whole Wheat Orange Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons grated orange rind

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup oil

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine orange juice, milk, oil, egg, and nuts and add to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees F. for 60 to 65 minutes.

Carrot-Coconut Bread

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

2 cups shredded carrots

1 1/4 cups coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Combine first 6 items in large bowl. Combine eggs, oil, and milk in small bowl and add to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Stir in carrots, coconut, raisins, and nuts and turn into 2 loaf pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Pineapple-Oatmeal Bread

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup oil

2/3 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

2/3 cup nuts, chopped

Beat eggs with sugar, salt, and oil. Add pineapple juice and fruit. Stir in combined dry ingredients and nuts until just moistened. Bake in loaf pan for 60 to 70 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup shortening

3 cups sugar

1 small can pumpkin (15 ounces)

4 eggs

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar. Combine pumpkin and eggs, beat well, and add to creamed mixture. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Add walnuts. Bake in 2 loaf pans at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour.

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