Ah, fall. That time of year when we start stocking our homes with candy and come to the slow and not altogether unwelcome realization that comfort foods are a staple for the remainder of the year. • We're leaning all the way in with this collection of quick breads, loaves of pure joy that are simple to make and rely on leaveners like baking soda and powder instead of yeast. That's what makes them "quick." We can get away with calling them "breads" as opposed to, oh, "cakes" because they tend to veer toward the more savory side, and contain less sugar. But don't let that fool you. You're still making a big carby loaf of bread. And hopefully, eating it for breakfast. Come on, it's fall! • Note: For all of these recipes, use a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Loaf
This loaf relies on a quick bread staple: zucchini. The veggie is bland and moist enough to lend just the right touch to most loaf recipes, and this one is no exception. To make, heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine in a bowl 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda and a pinch of salt. In another bowl, shred some zucchini until you have about 2 ½ cups. Add 3 large eggs, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, ½ cup olive oil and ¼ cup melted butter. You could swap the butter for coconut oil, if desired. Stir well, then add 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds. Stir to combine, then add the dry ingredients and mix gently. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, checking it starting at 45 minutes. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. This loaf pairs beautifully with a lemon glaze. Try this one: Mix 1 ounce softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons melted butter, ½ teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 3 cups powdered sugar and 6 tablespoons milk in a bowl. Whisk until smooth; add more milk if mixture is too thick to stir. Drizzle over loaf after it has cooled about 10 minutes. Recipe adapted from lecremedelacrumb.com.
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Quick Bread
Pumpkin and chocolate is an ideal combination this time of year. To make this bread, heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Melt 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, then set aside to let it cool a bit. Combine 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl or in the bowl of stand mixer, add 1 ½ cups granulated sugar and ½ cup vegetable oil. Whisk well, adding 2 large eggs and whisking after each addition. Then, add 1 cup canned pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Add flour mixture and stir to combine. Drizzle the chocolate evenly over the batter in the bowl, then fold until it's lightly swirled in. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, until the bread is browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
Tomato and Cheese Quick Bread
This option is downright savory, suitable for serving alongside dinner or as a base for egg toast in the morning. To make, start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Combine 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a greased baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or so; remove from oven and set aside. In another bowl, combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1 grated garlic clove and ½ cup each shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine, then add 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, ¼ cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon honey. Stir well, then add in tomatoes. Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Recipe adapted from "Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads."
Carrot Loaf Cake
If you want to make this a true cake cake, slather some cream cheese frosting on top. Otherwise, it makes for a fine loaf. To make, start by heating your oven to 350 degrees. Add 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour to a bowl, along with 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon each of the following: baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, beat ½ cup unsalted butter and ½ cup packed dark brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 large eggs and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, then stir in 1 cup grated carrots and 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts. Add flour mixture to carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com.
Chocolate-Tahini Banana Bread
The nutty quality imparted by the tahini (which is pureed sesame seeds; you can buy it at most grocery stores) is delightful in this slightly different take on traditional banana bread. To make, heat oven to 350 degrees and coat a loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana, ⅓ cup plain nonfat yogurt, ⅓ cup tahini, 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 large eggs and mix well. Beat in ½ cup each sugar and packed light brown sugar. Mix well, then add 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour, ¾ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt and stir to just combine. Fold in 2 ounces chopped bittersweet baking chocolate, then pour batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each white sesame seeds and black sesame seeds and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.