Quick Breads, Sweet Loaves, and Cakes to Bake in January

January 13, 2020

I know that most people think of January as a time of year to give up home baked goodies for more abstemious fare. But as far as I’m concerned, these chilly mid-winter days are the perfect time for a homemade loaf.

Over the years, I’ve built a deep well of recipes for these easy loaves and snacking cakes that are just the thing to ward off the darkness of the season. Dig in and enjoy.

jam and bread

If you are looking to shake up your baking game this season, I hope you find some inspiration.

Brown Breads

Brown Breads aren’t just for St. Patrick’s Day. They are durable, relatively neutral vehicles that pair with butter and beer, soups and stews, herby eggs, and other savory pleasures.

This Irish Brown Bread is known for its nutty flavor (supplied by the stoneground flour), crispy edges, and tender but sturdy crumb. For a less hardy but equally dense, nubby loaf, this Brown Soda Bread is the choice.


Squash Breads

One wonderful gift of cold weather is winter squash. You can adapt most squash to this recipe—butternut, acorn, delicata—I chose Kabocha Squash Quick Bread. It is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and is luxuriously moist. Play with the spices to suit your tastes.

On the other hand, if you have a stash of grated zucchini in your freezer, this Zucchini Bread is the perfect way to use it. The finished loaf is lightly sweet, mildly spiced, and is textured with toasted chopped walnuts.

For a nut free loaf, try this Whole Wheat Millet Pumpkin Bread. The toasted millet gives it great texture and nutrition.

maple banana bread with pear butter

Fruit Filled Breads

Banana bread is the perfect baked good to use up whatever you have left in the kitchen, be it in the recipe—wheat germ, almond meal, oat flour, nuts, seeds, & dried fruit—or as a topper—the last scrapings of fruit butters, nut butters, jams, etc. This Odds and Ends Banana Bread is my favorite toasted.

If you’d rather swap the sugar for a natural sweetener, try my Maple Banana Bread, or a Maple Sweetened Banana Oat Cake if you’re baking for someone who can’t have gluten.

Likewise, Whole Wheat Spiced Applesauce Bread are easy loaves to whip up and makes a great gift for those opposed to the taste of banana! It is based off my banana bread recipe, but adapted to use up several unfinished jars of spiced applesauce.

finished pear gingerbread

If you’re missing the gingerbread you ate around the holidays, bake up a batch of this Pear Gingerbread. It’s deeply flavored with molasses and fresh ginger, and is made extra moist by bits of ripe, winter pears.

For a less spicy, yet still seasonally relevant loaf, try this Cranberry Bread, made with dried cranberries, chopped pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange juice.

Leftovers and Preserves in Action

When it comes to baking, sometimes it’s best to make as much as you can while you have the energy. Babka For Now, Sticky Buns For Later is a recipe starts with a sweet, yeasty dough that turns into an apricot babka, as well as par-baked sticky buns that sit in the freezer until you’re ready to finish them off. Both recipes breathe new life into abandoned partial bags of nuts and leftover jam.

To put your other leftover preserves of the year in action, while still making something pretty and delightful, try this Simple Peach Cake, Rhubarb Cake, or Applesauce Loaf.

If you have yogurt you need to use before it turns, this Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake with Orange is a not-too-sweet cake made bright by orange zest. Yogurt is a superstar at keeping a loaf moist. I use it in this Rhubarb Yogurt Loaf as well.  


What kind of baking are you doing to help get you through January?

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4 thoughts on "Quick Breads, Sweet Loaves, and Cakes to Bake in January"

  • I baked your maple sweetened banana oat cake and my, how good it was! My husband has a terrible sweet tooth and I am always looking for ways to offer something on the healthy, not-too-sweet side. I had several overripe bananas on hand, so thought I would try this recipe although I am not a fan of gluten-free baking as a rule. I thought the cake would be dense but it was not. Tender, moist and even better on days two and three. I am already thinking of variations like using chopped dates instead of raisins – thank you for a great recipe!