The definition of ‘Quick’ breads is a bit misleading. They are definitely quicker to make than yeast breads, as they don’t require a lengthy rising time. But quick breads are a heavy batter which requires at least a one hour baking time, depending on the recipe. Muffins are an exception to that rule, but only because they are smaller. Instead of an hour, it usually takes muffins 20 to 30 minutes to bake.
But with quick breads, there is a trick to getting a moist, light finished product. It involves the order in which you mix your ingredients and how long you mix, blend and fold the dough.
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Mixing the Ingredients for Quick Breads
In the case of most quick breads, your dry ingredients will include flour, baking powder and salt. Some recipes may call for baking soda, either in place of the baking powder or combined with it.
Many recipes call to ‘sift the dry ingredients together’. By sifting them together not only ensures all of them are well blended, but also prevents clumps when the wet ingredients are added. If clumps form, it means more mixing. More mixing means a heavier finished muffin or loaf.
You can use a sifter if you choose, but I simply add all the ingredients in the bowl and use a fork or my dough whisk to break up any clumps and blend the ingredients. This works just as well, and keeps me from washing an extra item.
The same thing applies when mixing the wet ingredients for quick breads together. Mix them in a separate bowl and be sure they are fully blended together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Using a spoon or your dough whisk, blend the two together with as few strokes as it takes to fully combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Some recipes for quick breads may call for you to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. This is fine, just be sure to not over mix the dough when you do.
If you have fruit, nuts, cheeses or other ingredients, these are usually folded in at the end. Add them to the bowl, and using a spoon or dough whisk, pull the batter from the bottom of the bowl first, and ‘fold’ it over the ingredients. With just a few stokes, gently stir them in until combined.
Most recipes call for several ‘pre’ steps. ‘Pre’-heat the oven. ‘Pre’-pare the pans. For anything baked in the oven, pre-heating it allows the oven to fully heat up to the recommended temperature. If you place your food in the oven before it reaches this temperature, you food will not cook properly.
It is best to turn your oven on at least 20 minutes prior to baking your quick breads. With some ovens, it may take up to 30 minutes. The best way to ensure the proper temperature is with an oven thermometer.
Before you begin mixing your dough, be sure you have the correct size pan or pans for the recipe. Prepare it according to the recipe directions. Some require ‘greasing’, which means using a vegetable shortening or spray oil, such as Pam. In some cases, butter is used, but unless the recipe specifically calls for buttering your pans, use shortening. Butter can alter the taste and texture of your finished loaf.
If you are baking muffins, you can opt for cupcake papers. However, if you use these, they will not give you the side and bottom crust, and will make them more difficult to cut in half and add butter. And with some muffins, having butter melting against that warmth is the ‘icing on the cake’!
How to Make Muffins
Are you ready to try your hand at making quick breads? Let’s start with two easy recipes.
Just so you know, not all muffins are sweet and fruit filled, like the commonly thought of Blueberry Muffin. Some are actually savory, like Paradise Muffins, which are an excellent choice to serve with soups and stews.
And then there are those that are somewhere in the middle. They are lighter than a savory, but are a bit less sweet like a fruit muffin. Because of this, they pair well with soups, main meals and even egg based dishes like omelets and quiche.
Let’s start our lesson with the recipe for Corn & Cheese Muffins. First, the recipe. Next, breaking it down.
Corn & Cheese Muffins
- 1-1/2 cups Flour
- 1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Egg, slightly beaten
- 1 cup Whole kernel Corn, drained
- 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1 cup Milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients; mix well. Add the milk, oil and egg and stir just until moistened. Fold in the corn and cheese. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan, and serve warm.
Mix dry ingredients together. You can use a sifter, a fork or a dough whisk
When adding wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, form a well in the center. Either add the wet ingredients one at a time – or better yet, mix them together in a separate bowl before puring into the well
When adding extra ingredients, such as fruit, nuts, cheeses or others, pull the batter up and over the ingredients in a ‘folding’ motion. Do this on each side, and then give it a quick stir – but only just enough to blend them into the batter!
When putting the batter in the pan, fill to 2/3 full. Be careful not to fill the pans too full, as the batter will rise and run all over the pan and the oven!
Allow your muffins or bread to cool slightly (approximately 10 minutes) in the pan before removing. Place them on a cooling rack. Some recipes call to remove them immediately, like in the case of muffins. It is best to follow the recipe!
Now that you have successfully made your muffins, you have homework this weekend. You will be making a Strawberry Nut Bread. This is a delicious loaf that is perfect served warm from the oven. You can serve it as is, or add a touch of cream cheese for an even more delectable flavor. Just click HERE for the recipe!
To make this delicious loaf, just apply the same principles that you learned with the muffins. Take it slow, pay attention, and make sure you pre-heat your oven.
When you have finished baking your Strawberry Nut Loaf, be sure to share photos in the comments, or send one to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you have any questions, be sure to ask. I am standing by to help in any way I can!
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