Flavorful quick breads can rise to any occasion

By Sharon K. Ghag

The Modesto Bee (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 3:45 p.m. MST

Beat in the buttermilk, followed by the tepid white chocolate, orange zest and juice, and vanilla. The mixture will look curdled. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, and beat just until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the cranberries, hazelnuts and white chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting and unmolding bread.

— "Tate's Bake Shop Baking for Friends," by Kathleen King (Tate's Bake Shop, $24.95)

POLENTA LOAFWITH ROSEMARY, PARMESAN AND OLIVE OIL

Makes: 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (5-ounces) polenta

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated course (1 cup), divided use

¾ cup sour cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk flour, polenta, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, breaking up any clumps, until coated with flour.

In a separate bowl, whisk sour cream, milk, sugar, oil and eggs together until smooth. Gently fold sour cream mixture into flour mixture until just combined; do not overmix.

Pour into greased loaf pan or greased muffin tins. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes for muffins, 40 to 50 minutes for loaf pan. Cool before inverting.

Note: Cornmeal can be used in place of the polenta. It will result in a more cake-like texture.

— "The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook," by editors at America's Test Kitchen ($34.95)

GOLDEN PUMPKIN LOAF

Makes: 1 large loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

11/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or mace

3 large eggs

1¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed

¾ cup granulated sugar

11/2 cups pumpkin purée

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and line bottom and long sides with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and both sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and thick, for about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed, then add the pumpkin, vanilla and oil and continue mixing until smooth.

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