Easy Homemade Gifts: Gift of the Magi Bread

Gift of the Magi Bread

Growing up, one of my Mom’s holiday traditions was baking Gift of the Magi Bread. Her original, hand written recipe from the 70s is below. It is heavily spotted with all the batter we’ve made over the years which is just one more reason I love to pull it out of my recipe book and mix it up. The tradition is there, splattered right onto the pages.

Usually, we made this bread at Christmas, but really it is a great treat (and gift to others) any time of the year. I’ve listed the traditional ingredients we use below, but you can get as creative as you’d like with the nuts and fruits you add to the mix. Even though this is fruity, it is way better than a fruitcake (in my humble, yet biased, opinion)! So, get to baking and enjoy!

    1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter, softened (put in microwave for about 20-30 seconds to soften quickly if needed but do not melt)
    1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
    2 Eggs
    1 Tbsp Vanilla
    2 Cups All-Purpose Flour, sifted
    1 Tsp Baking Soda, sifted
    Pinch Salt
    1 Cup (2-3) Very Ripe Bananas, mashed
    1 – 11 oz. Can Mandarin Oranges, drained
    6 oz. Chocolate Pieces of choice (I like Bittersweet)
    1 Cup Shredded Coconut
    2/3 Cup Sliced Almonds + extra to top bread
    1/2 Cup Maraschino Cherries, chopped
    1/2 Cup Dried Figs or Dates, chopped

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease two 9×5 loaf pans or four small loaf pans.
    2. Cream together softened Butter and Sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add Eggs and Vanilla and bet until fluffy.
    3. In a medium bowl sift together Flour, Baking Soda and Salt. Add Flour mixture alternately with Bananas to Butter mixture, one scoop at a time, mixing to combine between each addition.
    4. Use a wooden spoon to stir in Mandarin Oranges, Chocolate, Coconut, Almonds, Cherries and Figs.
    5. Divide equally and pour into buttered pans. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the top.
    6. Sprinkle extra Almonds over the top of each loaf. Place pans in the pre-heated oven to bake.
    7. For large pans, bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until toothpick from center comes out mostly clean. For small pans, bake for about 25-35 minutes.
    8. Remove loaf pans from oven. Let bread cool for about 10 minutes. Slightly loosen loaf from sides of pan with a butter knife, remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool. (If you don’t have a wire rack you can also use a cutting board, but be sure to roll it on its sides occasionally so the bottom doesn’t stay too moist.)
    9. Serve warm (or cooled). This bread is excellent reheated in the toaster, with a little fresh butter. Enjoy!

    Gift of the Magi Bread 2


    1. Michelle says:

      How sweet. Love the recipe and all the splatters.

      • Jes says:

        Thanks Michelle. Isn’t it cute? It is always so great to have a copy of the original with all the character and history right there on the page.

    2. Domesticdeb says:

      I just made your recipe, and was so excited to taste it. Unfortunately, I followed your typed directions rather than the recipe card with the original measurements and ingredients. As a result I added 1 tablespoon of both vanilla and baking soda, as you stated. You may want to change that for any one else who tries to make the recipe. (BTW – it still tastes good. :))

      • Jes says:

        Thanks for letting me know there was some confusion. I do use extra vanilla one tablespoon (Tbsp) which is more than the original recipe, but the Baking Soda is just one teaspoon (Tsp) per the original recipe. I realize the abbreviations can be confusing sometimes, but that is what I use generally for this site. I’m glad it came out OK and sorry for any confusion!!! 🙂

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    About the Author – Jes

    About the Author

    On this site I share my bottomless passion for good food, big adventures and green spaces. You can learn more about my wellness programming, cooking and gardening classes and Ayurvedic offerings here.

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    All of the content (including recipes) on Urban Sacred Garden is the original work of Jessica Pendergrass, unless otherwise noted. You are welcome to link to this site and its content, but please ensure proper credit and let me know so I can return the favor. Any duplication of the content or recipes is by permission only. Please contact me via e-mail for permission or if you have any other questions.
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