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7 Sweet and Simple Breads That Will Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Ready or not, the holiday season is in full swing: The neighborhood decorations are up, the festive music is playing and the Black Friday commercials are running. You might as well get in the spirit and start baking.
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Ready or not, the holiday season is in full swing: The neighborhood decorations are up, the festive music is playing and the Black Friday commercials are running. You might as well get in the spirit and start baking. These sweet and simple breads will fill your home with the scents of the season -- and make you happy.

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With a gorgeous ribbon of melted chocolate running through it, this banana bread is a showstopper. Plus, it's fun to make: you spoon the banana and chocolate batters into a loaf pan alternately, then artistically swirl the two together with a knife. GET THE RECIPE

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Old-fashioned gingerbread is the perfect treat to keep on hand during the holidays. There are many different kinds -- from the darkest, densest cakes made with robust molasses and stout beer to the lightest, most delicate cakes flavored only with brown sugar and a hint of ground ginger. This recipe is gingery enough to please the even most serious gingerbread aficionados yet also mild enough for young children, who gobble it up. GET THE RECIPE

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Sweet, orange-scented and chock-full of cranberries and walnuts, this quick bread is perfect for the holidays. It freezes beautifully, so you can bake several loaves now and defrost as needed. GET THE RECIPE

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One of my favorite childhood memories is baking these pumpkin loaves with my mom, and then carting them off to every neighborhood potluck, school event and holiday party. Now, I bake them all the time with my own kids. The recipe is easy -- just a bit of mixing and stirring, pop 'em in the oven and, in about an hour, you'll have a house smelling of sweet autumn spices and two scrumptious, pumpkiny loaves. GET THE RECIPE

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Chai is the actual word for tea in many countries but when we say chai in the States, we're usually referring to Masala chai, which is a smooth and calming beverage made of black tea, milk and fragrant Indian spices. Its flavor goes beautifully with banana bread so, here, I've taken one of my favorite banana bread recipes and subtly infused it with warm chai spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. It's wonderfully aromatic -- a sophisticated twist on basic banana bread. GET THE RECIPE

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Sweetened with honey and gently spiced, these earthy muffins are delicious served warm out of the oven smeared with butter. As a bonus, the addition of pumpkin makes them healthier and lower in fat than your typical corn bread. GET THE RECIPE

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Cinnamon buns are a holiday breakfast tradition at my house. These are light and tender on the inside, golden and caramelized on the outside and, best of all, quick and easy to make. GET THE RECIPE