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Welcome back to our Be a Better Cook series! Today we’re showing you the easiest and most versatile way to make quick bread.
In terms of oxymorons, “quick bread” is right up there with “dry wine” and “fresh cheese.” One does not usually think of homemade bread as fast or easy, so it often comes as a surprise to learn that you could be enjoying a slice of your own homemade bread in just about an hour. And it’s equally grand that making bread is a terrific use for a surplus of produce, such as zucchini, carrots, overripe bananas and hot and sweet peppers.
Yeast, or a lack of it, is the difference between quick bread and “not-quick” bread. When making quick bread – which doesn’t call for yeast – there is no need to let the dough rise before you pound it down and let it rise again. Quick bread uses a basic combination of dry ingredients (flour, sweetener and leavening agents such as baking soda and powder) and wet ingredients (usually oil, butter, milk or eggs). This results in a thick batter that can be dressed up with a delicious variety of mix-ins. Depending on your ingredients at hand, you can mix in vegetables, herbs and cheeses to take your bread in a savory direction, or you can opt for a sweeter bread by mixing in fruits, nuts, spices and even chocolate chips.
If you can’t wait to dig in, cut yourself a slice after your baked bread cools for 10 to 15 minutes, but then set it aside. Quick bread almost always benefits from resting overnight, which allows the moisture to redistribute while improving the texture and ability to slice the dense, flavor-rich bread. The process is so simple that you could bake several loaves at once and send them away with friends, or you could pack the loaves in the freezer to enjoy again a few months later. To end with another oxymoron, we hope our easy formula for quick bread becomes a “new classic” in your recipe box.
Why not try this quick Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread out as a Southern Thanksgiving side this holiday?
Aerate flour: With a spoon, stir and fluff up flour to aerate, then scoop flour into a measuring cup until full. With the dull edge of a knife, level off flour. This step ensures your baked goods are well aerated; simply scooping measuring cup into flour can yield an extra ounce of flour per cup, which results in dense bread.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, cane juice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Form a well in center of mixture.
The well acts as a bowl to hold liquid ingredients, making it easier to fold them evenly into the batter without over-mixing.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg and milk. Pour into well of flour mixture.
With a rubber spatula, fold milk mixture into flour mixture. Fold in jalapeño, corn and cheddar until just combined. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth; do not over-mix. Over-mixing causes too much gluten to develop, which causes “tunneling,” where air pockets and peaks form at the top of the loaf.
Transfer batter to a loaf pan, smoothing the top. (TIP: To make this recipe as muffins, simply divide batter into a 12-count muffin tin and reduce baking time to 20 to 25 minutes.)
Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of loaf, 50 to 55 minutes. The top of the loaf should spring back when gently touched.
Let loaf cool in pan for 5 minutes. This allows the batter to set and cool into shape. Remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack; leaving loaf in pan for more than 5 minutes causes the bottom of the loaf to steam and become soggy.
To freeze, tightly wrap cooled loaf in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Seal bag, squeezing out excess air. Bread will keep frozen for up to 3 months.
More Quick Bread Combos
|Strawberry Banana||Lemon Blueberry||Carrot Raisin Pecan||Zucchini Walnut|
|Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon to flour mixture and stir in 1 ripe mashed banana and 1 cup diced strawberries in place of jalapeño, corn and cheese. If desired, top batter with additional diced or sliced strawberries before baking.||Add 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest to the flour mixture and stir in 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 1 cup blueberries in place of jalapeño, corn and cheese.||Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon to the flour mixture and stir in. 1 cup shredded carrots, ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans and ¼ cup raisins in place of jalapeño, corn and cheese.||Add 1 tsp ground nutmeg to flour mixture and stir in 1½ cups shredded zucchini and ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts in place of jalapeño, corn and cheese.|
Now that you’ve mastered the art of quick bread, you may want to try your Better Cook hand at the following kitchen creations: