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All About Baking: Quick Breads
The Versatile Quick Bread
It's no wonder quick breads are so popular. They are easy, fast-as the name implies, nearly foolproof, versatile, and oh, so good. We commonly know them as sweetened loaves with fruit or nuts, somewhere between yeast breads and cakes in texture and sweetness. They are leavened with baking powder and baking soda. Banana bread and date nut bread are typical though some books list recipes for savory varieties.
Quick breads have less sugar and less fat than cakes. The nuts often found in quick breads add to the fat content. The fruit adds to the moisture as well as the flavor. Because quick breads tend to be drier than cakes, they are often spread with butter, cream cheese, or jam. Peanut butter is one of our favorite toppings.
Quick breads tend to be more dense and moist than muffins though the batter for quick breads can be baked in muffin tins. Generally, muffin batter is thinner than quick bread batter.
Quick breads are wonderfully versatile, appropriate whenever the richness of a cake is undesirable. They are often served at breakfast and brunch, for snacks, and they finish a meal well in place of a sweeter dessert. When used for a dessert, they can be topped with ice cream or a syrup. Slices can be toasted or dipped in eggs and made as French toast. They make great sandwiches-though a bit fragile unless "stuck" together with cream cheese or peanut butter. Try a fruit filled quick bread topped with shavings of ham or turkey.
How to Bake Quick Bread
There are two methods for mixing quick breads: the creaming method and the muffin method. With the creaming method, sugar and fat (butter, margarine, or shortening) are beat together to entrain air in the mixture and provide added lift to the batter. With the muffin method, the liquids are combined in one bowl, the dry ingredients in another, and then the two are mixed together. The creaming method tends to make a more cake-like bread. The steps for each method follow.
The Creaming Method
1. Place softened butter, margarine, or shortening in a bowl. Add the sugars, spices, and salt and beat until light and fluffy and air is entrained throughout the mixture. (Do not let the butter or margarine get warm enough that it approaches the melting point. Friction from the mixing, especially with an electric mixer, will increase the temperature.)
The Muffin Method
1. Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together to thoroughly disperse the salt, sugar, and leavenings throughout the flour.
Pointers for Success
1. Do not over mix. Over mixing will develop the gluten and make the bread tough instead of tender.
1. Cracked top: A cracked top is desirable and not a fault.
For more articles like this visit The Bakers' Library.
© 2004 The Prepared Pantry
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