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Quick Breads

Holiday Baking: Quick Breads

With no rising of yeast or shaping of dough to slow you down, you can have a quick bread batter in the oven in just minutes. Yet, the best thing about quick breads isn’t that they’re quick – though that’s certainly a bonus. Even better, quick breads are delicious and versatile. A quick bread can round out a soup lunch, serve as a festive appetizer or dessert, or provide a healthful after-school boost.

You can vary quick breads by using an array of nuts, dried or fresh fruits, and sweeteners. Include nutrition boosters like wheat germ, oats, and powdered milk. Try different pans (loaf pans, muffin tins, shaped baking pans, even cans). And whether you’re starting with an heirloom recipe or are inventing your own signature loaf as you go, use spices to make your quick breads richly distinctive.

Tips for Better Quick Breads

To prepare a quick bread, simply mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, combine and pour into your greased baking pan. Keep these tips in mind for the best quick breads:

  • Measure leavening (baking soda or baking powder) correctly. Too much may give your quick breads a bitter aftertaste. It also can make them too dry and crumbly and cause them to rise too quickly in the oven and then fall. Not enough, on the other hand, can leave you with a cloying, heavy texture.
  • Stir your batter just until the ingredients are combined. A few lumps are fine, and overmixing will make your bread rubbery.
  • To test for doneness, insert a toothpick or a sharp knife into the center of your bread. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
  • To keep your quick bread from crumbling when you slice it, let it cool before slicing. When you do slice, use a sharp knife in a sawing motion, rather than pressing downward.
  • Don’t worry about that crack on the top of your quick bread. It’s normal and won’t affect the taste at all.
  • Don’t overfull your muffin tins or the muffins will be misshapen. To avoid tunnels in your muffins, don’t overmix or use too high a baking temperature.
  • To keep small pieces of fruit (like raisins) and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the pan during baking, dust them with flour before adding to your batter.

Recipe: Spiced Maple Pecan Pumpkin Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, maple syrup, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, with a wire whisk, mix together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. Stir pecans into the dry mixture.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, until just fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Spoon into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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