Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; coat well with cooking spray.
Add the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean (see recipes for times).
Let cool 1 hour, then remove the loaf from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
1. Pumpkin Whisk 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup each vegetable oil and light brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Separately, whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Bake 60 to 70 minutes.
2. Baked Apple Soak 3/4 cup raisins in 1/4 cup rum, 30 minutes. Make Pumpkin Bread (No. 1), replacing the pumpkin with 3/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup apple butter. Add the raisins to the batter.
3. Sweet Potato-Pecan Make Pumpkin Bread (No. 1), replacing the pumpkin with sweet potato puree. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1 teaspoon orange zest to the dry ingredients.
4. Banana-Nut Whisk 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3), 1/2 cup each vegetable oil and plain yogurt, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Separately, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 teaspoon each baking powder and cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and nutmeg. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Bake 55 to 65 minutes.
5. Banana-Cranberry Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), replacing the walnuts with dried cranberries.
6. Pear-Hazelnut Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), replacing the bananas with shredded peeled pears (about 2 medium; squeeze dry). Replace the walnuts with chopped toasted hazelnuts and the cinnamon and nutmeg with 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest to the dry ingredients.
7. Applesauce-Granola Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), replacing the bananas with applesauce and omitting the yogurt. Add 1/2 cup granola to the dry ingredients. Sprinkle 1/4 cup more granola down the center of the loaf; bake 60 to 70 minutes.
8. Spiced Apple-Walnut Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), replacing the bananas with shredded peeled apple (about 1 large; squeeze dry). Use 1/2 cup walnuts and add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the dry ingredients.
9. Strawberry-Pecan Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), omitting the bananas. Replace the yogurt with 1/4 cup milk and the walnuts with 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans; omit the baking soda. Add 1 cup chopped strawberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour to the batter. Bake 60 to 70 minutes.
10. Blueberry-Almond Make Banana-Nut Bread (No. 4), omitting the bananas and replacing the walnuts with 1/2 cup each sliced almonds and old-fashioned oats. Add 1 1/4 cups blueberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour to the batter.
QUESTIONS FROM THE DUNCAN HINES TEST KITCHEN
Q: I hate to throw out bananas, but we won’t eat them if they are really ripe and we get tired of banana bread. Any suggestions?
A: For a delicious change of pace, bake a Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cake Mix, decreasing the water to 3/4 cup and adding 1 cup of mashed bananas.
Q: My children always want a cookie in their lunches, but no matter how carefully I time the cookies, they are dark brown on the bottom. I don’t grease the cookie sheets and I bake in the center of the oven. What am I doing wrong?
A: The problem may originate in your cookie sheets, especially if they are spotted or dark in color. Cookies baked on darker sheets need less time to bake. Also, the suggested baking temperature should be reduced by 25 degree. Since utensils with bright reflective surfaces produce consistently good results, you might want to consider investing in aluminum cookie sheets.