Quick Breads

Quick Breads

Made without yeast, quick breads encompass a remarkably wide variety of baked goods. Pancakes, muffins, crackers and fried dough all fall under this category. These breads are relatively quick to make, requiring none of the rising time that yeast breads need. Heat, eggs, and fast-acting chemical leaveners such as baking powder and baking soda are the most common leavening agents for quick breads.

To make tender quick breads, mix just until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. A few patches of dry flour are okay as they will moisten during cooking. Avoid over-mixing, which develops the gluten in the flour, and will make the quick bread tough and chewy.

Overcooked quick breads could be salvaged by poking deep holes through the top with a skewer and drizzle fruit juice or a liquid sweetener (maple syrup or honey) over the holes to penetrate into the bread. As for cooking an under-baked quick bread through, lay slices across a baking sheet if the bread has already cooled. Cover with foil, and bake at 300oF until cooked through. If the bread is still hot, put it back into the over until done.

To retain moistness in quick breads that include dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, and apples that absorb moisture in quick breads, replace up to one-third of the liquid in the recipe with low-fat plain yogurt. Also, plump the dried fruit before adding it to the batter. Cover with boiling water and let soak 15 minutes Cool and pat dry with paper towels. Or substitute some honey for the sugar in the recipe. The hydroscopic quality of honey (drawing moisture from the air) helps retain moisture in the finished product.

If you want fresh, hot quick breads in the morning, prepare the ingredients the night before, keeping the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Come morning, preheat the oven, combine the 2 bowls of ingredients, turn the batter into a pan and bake.

In many traditional quick bread recipes, you can use 25 percent less fat than is called for in the recipe with no other changes. It can also be improvised to make a more healthful doughnut. When preparing any quick bread, make up an extra batch of plain batter, adding a pinch of nutmeg. Bake in mini Bundt pans according to the recipe directions. Cool and coat with a glaze made from 1 cup confectioners' sugar thinned with 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or orange juice. Reheat briefly in the microwave oven for those moments when you crave a glazed doughnut.

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