Gift Breads: An Easy Way To Impress This Christmas

FARGO – Black Friday has come and gone and some of you are well-into checking off items on your Christmas list. Others are in a white-hot panic with no clue what to get anyone. No matter which category you fall into, you might want to consider homemade gift breads. They’re a fairly economical way to add an extra homestyle touch to store-bought gifts, and they’re an easy standalone gift for those still stumped with shopping.

I’ve seen gift breads all over Pinterest, but never seen anyone go quite as crazy as my friend Kathy Leingang. I got to know Kathy this year as she helped us produce our commemorative Honor Flight book, “In Their Honor: WDAY Honor Flight 2007-2017.” (Yes, this is a shameless plug alert.)

Kathy bakes dozens of loaves of bread every year for friends, family and clients of Forum Communication Printing. This year she says she has made 156 loaves during just one  weekend.

“This year, the oven was on for about 27 hours!” she says.

She usually bakes two types of breads – one of them being zucchini because she says, “my dear cousin always supplies me with shredded zucchini.”

Kathy was nice enough to share recipes for three of her favorites. Pistachio Sweet Bread, Poppy Seed Bread  and Pina Colada Zucchini Bread. The bread was moist and tender and seemed very festive with the little green strands of zucchini strewn about the batter. Kathy makes the breads in mini loaf pans and tops them with covers and assorted decor. It’s super cute, super yummy and – boom – there’s one more thing you can check off your list!


Pistachio Sweet Bread

Yields: 2 large loaves


1 Yellow cake mix

1 Package instant pistachio pudding

4 Eggs

2 Tablespoons water

1/4 Cup oil

1 Cup Sour Cream

4 Drops green food coloring

1//4 Cup sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon


Combine all ingredients; mix well.

Prepare loaf pans; grease generously, dust with mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon. Reserve remaining sugar mixture.

Pour batter into pans. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes or until done. Remove immediately from pans and place in plastic bags or plastic wrap and refrigerate (or use disposable pans and leave in pan).


Poppy Seed Bread

Yields: 2 large loaves


3 Cups all-purpose flour

2-1/4 Cups sugar

3 Teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 Tablespoons  poppy seeds

1-1/2 Teaspoons salt

3 Eggs

1-1/2 Cups milk

1 Cup vegetable oil

1-1/2 Teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2 Teaspoons almond extract

1-1/2 Teaspoons butter extract


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 tsp. butter extract


In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and extracts. Pour into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 60-65 minutes. Cool completely in pans. In a saucepan, bring all glaze ingredients to a boil. Pour over bread in pans. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.


Pina Colada Zucchini Bread

Yields: 3 mini loaves (12 slices per loaf)


4 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 teaspoon (each) coconut, rum and vanilla extracts

3 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup chopped walnuts or chopped pecans (I chose to leave these out)


Line the bottoms of three greased and floured 8- by  4-inch loaf pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil and extracts. Stir in dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the zucchini, pineapple and walnuts. Transfer to prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Gently remove waxed paper.

Recipe courtesy of Kathy Leingang.

Another gift idea

What: “In Their Honor: WDAY Honor Flight 2007-2017,” a commemorative coffee table book with stories, photos and biographies from the last decade of Honor Flight.

Where: Available at on the “Deals” tab, at The Forum, WDAY, WDAZ, Jamestown Sun, Dickinson Press, Bismarck Senior Center, Fargo Air Museum and Zandbroz Variety book store.

Info: Cost is $30 (plus shipping and handling).