This bread and muffin recipe has lots of options

I have a new neighbor. His name is David, and the mailman keeps putting his mail in my box. The other day, I took my mail out, and I had a copy of the new issue of the Food Network magazine. At first, I was confused. Had I ordered this and forgotten about it? Then I was excited. Maybe they sent me an edition for free! Then I realized it belonged to David.
I knew I should give it back, but I really didn’t want to. So, I read it. Then I copied a few recipes. And then I slipped it under his door late at night.

By far the most fun thing in it was a master recipe for tea bread. By changing the fruit or vegetable and the mix-ins, you can come up with infinite options.

It goes like this:

Choose a fruit or vegetable. Prepare 1 cup of it. They suggest pear (shredded and squeezed dry), apple  (shredded and squeezed dry), banana (mashed), carrot (shredded) or zucchini ( (shredded and squeezed dry).

Pick your mix-ins. You can use up to 1 3/4 cup total, but no more than 3/4 cup chopped nuts. They suggest toasting and chopping all nuts and cutting up any large dried fruit. The choices are: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried currants, raisins, dried figs, dried apricots, pitted dried dates, rolled oats, chocolate chips and sweetened shredded coconut.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare the pan. They suggest using a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan or three 6-by-3 inch mini pans. Grease those. I also found you can use the batter to make muffins, and for that, I used paper muffin cups.

Make the batter. Mix  1 1/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and salt, 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add your dry mix-ins. In another bowl, beat 1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil (I used butter), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I used vanilla yogurt) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. You can add 1 teaspoon citrus zest if you want. I didn’t. Stir your fruit or vegetable into the egg mixture. Then fold in dry ingredients until just combined.

Bake the loaf or muffins. A standard loaf will take about 55 minutes. Mini loaves will take 35 to 40 minutes. Muffins are done in 25. Insert a toothpick in the top, and if it comes out clean, you’re done. Cool 30 minutes in the pan, then turn onto a rack to continue cooling.

Make a glaze (but only if you want). The magazine offered six choices for glazes. I will give you two. Vanilla: 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and seeds from a vanilla bean. Chocolate: 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Persimmon bread with raisins, coconut and a vanilla glaze.

I began deviating from magazine’s suggestions immediately. The first variation I tried used 1 cup pureed persimmon as the fruit. My mix-ins were 3/4 cup golden raisins and 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut. I baked it in a loaf pan, put a vanilla glaze on it (substituting 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla beans) and fed it to my co-workers. I thought it was too sweet with the glaze. They were happy with their sugar buzz.

Raspberry, chocolate chip and walnut muffins.

The next time around, I used 1 cup pureed raspberries as my fruit and 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts as my mix-ins. I baked the batter as muffins and didn’t glaze them. I loved these.

So, try it! If you come up with a good combination, I’d love to hear from you. And if it’s really good, maybe I’ll slip the recipe under my neighbor David’s door in the middle of the night.

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