3 Country-Inspired Holiday Quick Breads to Make and Share

Posted by Catherine Seiberling Pond on December 2, 2022

'Tis the season for homemade holiday gift-giving. In this article, farmwife Catherine S. Pond, shares her go-to, perfected recipes for country-inspired quick breads including cranberry orange nut bread, the best banana bread, and Mrs. Hrones pumpkin bread---perfect for baking and sharing.

I don’t know what it is about quick breads. Not only are they incredibly easy to make, often hand-stirred in one bowl, but they are easily doubled or quadrupled, with a pliable batter versatile enough to create muffins.

My friend Linda Tenney and I are always looking for the “perfect” recipe and once found, we look no further.

It was a game we enjoyed talking about years ago in New Hampshire while perusing cookbooks by the lake while my boys swam with her grandchildren. I know she still applies the same standards to her cooking — which is fabulous (and you haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed one of her Polish Christmas or Easter meals). [She was even featured in Yankee Magazine for her Polish cuisine.]

So these are each that “perfect recipe” in my estimation and perhaps you will discover that too. You can whip up some bread for friends and family in no time with these easy and delicious recipes.


Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bread

This is a very moist bread that is almost like a tea bread. You can make it in one bowl with a spoon, which also makes it fast and easy to whip up and bake within an hour.

The orange juice and zest give it a lot of sweetness and flavor, so you could even cut the granulated sugar a bit if you wish (but not too much because it balances the tartness of the cranberry). 

Like most quick breads, it also easily doubles and freezes, and I make it at the holidays to give as gifts.

You can also use gluten-free flour in the same measurement, but you might need to bake it just a tad more. [I often add ½ tsp of ground cinnamon and ½ tsp of ground ginger if I have them on hand.]


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup orange juice 
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp shortening (or soft butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon & ½ tsp of ground ginger (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups cranberries, chopped or whole


  1. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda (and spices, if desired) with a whisk (no need to sift).
  2. Stir in orange juice, orange zest, shortening and egg. [Don’t over-stir, but make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated—and don’t use an electric mixer because it will overbeat.]
  3. Add nuts and cranberries.
  4. Pour into a greased 9”x5” loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until inserted toothpick tests done.


The Best Banana Bread 

Christmases growing up in Akron, Ohio in the 1960s always included the annual baking of banana bread—loaves and loaves of it, it seemed.

I believe my mother used a recipe from her well-worn 1950s edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which came in a binder, that she received as a bridal shower gift. Or it may have been from a recipe tin she also received at her shower, filled with handwritten recipes from women who attended. (I still have both…somewhere!)

The sweet, warm smell wafted through the house throughout baking day. Then we would wrap everything and make deliveries around town from a station wagon laden with foil-wrapped banana breads for friends and family. It not only smelled good but it felt good to do and I admired my mother for her thoughtfulness.

I don’t believe it’s sacrilegious to say that while that was a great recipe, I have found an even better one that needs absolutely no improvement.

When I found and tried this recipe I knew it was “the one.” It’s super moist and very banana-y, more like a banana cake, which it could easily become. It also toasts really well, which heightens the flavor.


  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 ½  bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped


  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in the oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla.
  5. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts.
  6. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

—Adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe [Chronicle Books: 2010]


Mrs. Hrones's Pumpkin Bread

Years ago, old family friends lived in Cleveland, just north of where I grew up in Akron, Ohio.

One year we gathered there around Thanksgiving and Mrs. Hrones kindly passed along her pumpkin bread recipe to me. It is moist and quite pumpkin-y! And the ingredients in this are already doubled.

Like other quick breads, you can more than double it if you want to without affecting the batter.


  • 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips (optional— I’m a purist and this was not in the original recipe, but it’s not a bad combination, either!)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8.5 x 4 x 2.5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla and sugar until well blended.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice until combined.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Be sure to share these quick breads (and recipes) with friends and family...and make an extra loaf (or two) for yourself.

Happy holidays!

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Catherine Seiberling Pond

Catherine Seiberling Pond writes about home, place, and rural life from her Kentucky ridge farm where her family moved from New England in 2008. She is also marketing coordinator (remote and on site) for the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska and says the combination of vocations and locales is the best of all rural worlds. Find more at CatherinePond.com.

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