There are a blue million sources out there for how to make delicious, beautiful, perfectly-Martha holiday goodies. In my pre-kid life I would make several different types of cookies and other treats, all beautifully packaged, to give to co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Now, although I clip recipes to my heart’s content, with 2 toddlers I somehow never get around to making the gingerbread house from scratch, or the 10 layer holiday trifle. Oh, how the mighty holiday treat standards have fallen!
Now, I have a new secret. Boxed quick bread mixes. Oh, scoff all you want, ye of the made-from-scratch-is-best camp. If it’s a choice between pumpkin bread from a box or not at all, I know which one I’d choose.
I’ve had a lot of luck with the Pillsbury brand mixes–they always seem to turn out nice and moist, and are all delicious. I wait until they are $2 per box or less, and then I stock up. I use mini-bread pans and make a couple batches at a time, then just wrap in colored cellophane, tie with a pretty ribbon, and, voila! Holiday presents for everyone!
You can dress them up by adding chopped nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, shredded coconut (all into the mix just prior to backing) or with a dusting of powdered sugar or drizzle of icing (after they’ve baked!).
As far as being kid-friendly, I’ve found that it’s MUCH easier to make several mini-loaves at once than to try to make cookies–that’s just too much time with the oven opening and closing, and too many large, hot cookie tins laying about, for tiny fingers. My son had a blast this weekend helping mix the batter, and although quick breads are fairly high in calories and sugar (130 calories and 15 g sugar for one serving of the pumpkin bread, for example), they are no worse than the sugar cookies and fudge everyone else is making!
You can keep a couple loaves on hand (even frozen) as an emergency you just stopped by with a gift for me and I have nothing for you gift, but since they are so fast to mix up, if someone pops by for a surprise visit it’s easy enough to mix, pop in the oven, and by the time the coffee’s perked and the tea is steeped the bread will be nearly done.
Happy Baking to you and yours!