Baking Lessons: Quick Breads
Updated March 1, 2015
We all have enjoyed the fruit of labor that is quick breads. Learning how to make quick breads is not difficult, but it is important to learn the proper methods and techniques. As with anything, the proper knowledge can change everything. So what are quick breads? Quick breads are named as such because they are quick to make and quick to bake. They consist of basic ingredients and no yeast.
Quick breads consist of muffins, biscuits, scones and loaf breads (Banana bread for example). They are called quick breads due to the lack of fermentation associated with yeast breads. They are widely popular and highly versatile. If you’ve ever made muffins or banana bread, you are familiar with quick breads and some general knowledge of why they work.
Making quick breads is quite easy with our baking lessons, but care must be paid attention to the proportions in the recipe. If you need to substitute ingredients, or you are modifying a recipe to make your own, remember that the most important properties to keep in mind are moisture and size. Adjusting the flour/moisture proportion will help you achieve a more consistent product. Follow us on our baking lessons journey into the world of baking with the basics of quick breads.
Without the fermentation process that yeast provides to yeast breads, quick breads are required to use alternate methods of leavening (To rise) to achieve the desired consistency. As such, all quick breads are leavened using chemical leaveners.These leaveners include:
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Baking Ammonia
Mastering the principles of leavening is important to producing quality quick breads. Too much of one leavening agent will produce a soapy, chemical taste while too little will cause your product to not rise and become dense.
There are three different types of methods you can apply to your mixing, and following these cooking lessons will ensure your product turns up consistent. As you may tell, the methods are named after the type of product you’re wishing to use.
- Biscuit Method
- Muffin Method
- Creaming Method
All quick break mixing methods serve important purposes and produce very different results. If you choose to use the creaming method when you need to use the muffin method, you could produce gluten, creating a tough product. You can define each method by remembering the differences in the temperature of the fat prior to mixing.
The biscuit method involves cutting cold fat into the flour before any liquid is added. This is achieved by using a pastry cutter, or by breaking up the fat in your hands to produce small balls of fat. This method results in a flaky texture in the finished product for things such as scones.
The muffin method is a mixing method used to create quick bread batters. The fat is liquid, such as melted butter or oil and is combined with the liquids before being added to the dry ingredients. The result is a soft, tender, cake-like texture. When preparing goods using the muffin method, you must be sure not to over mix the batter otherwise you’ll create undesirable gluten content. Best method is to mix until just combined by using a spatula to fold in the ingredients. Lumps are acceptable and even encouraged with the muffin method.
TIP: If you are finding your fruits/nuts/chocolate is sinking to the base of your quick breads, douse the items in flour before adding them into the batter. This will keep them suspended in the batter while it cooks ensuring an even distribution.
The creaming method requires that the fat be softened, or at room temperature. This softened fat is combined with sugar and beaten using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer or by using a spatula to incorporate air before any other ingredients are added. You will see a rich, tender, cake-like texture.
Understanding the 3 mixing methods described in this article and understand the interaction between chemical leavening agents and other ingredients will help solidify a strong baking knowledge base for you to build on!
Baking Quick Breads
Once your batter is ready to bake, you’ll place them in the appropriate cookware and you should be ready to bake. When the chemical leaveners in the batter are exposed to heat, you will see whats called the “oven spring”. This is the leavener doing it’s work. Once the leavening power has been exhausted, the only rise you will see will be from steam.
To check if a quick bread is finished, use a toothpick and sink it into the deepest part of the product. If it comes out clean, the product is finished. Once removed from the oven, they must immediately be transferred out of the bake ware and placed on a cooling rack to cool, otherwise you will have a soggy bottom on the product.
Troubleshooting Quick Breads
If you’re having issues with the final product of your quick bread, follow this troubleshooting guide to help identify the problem.
|Soapy/Bitter Taste||Chemical leaveners were not mixed into batter thoroughly||Sift the leaveners with the dry ingredients|
|Too much baking soda||Adjust your formula|
|Elongated holes (Tunneling)||Overmixing||Mix until only combined and moist|
|Crust too thick||Too much sugar||Adjust your formula|
|Oven temperature too low||Adjust your oven temperature|
|Flat tops, small peaks in center||Oven temperature too low||Adjust your oven temperature|
|Cracked, uneven tops||Oven temperature too high||Adjust your oven temperature|
|No rise or dense product||Old batter||Bake quicker|
|Damaged leavening agents||Store leavening agents properly|
|Overmixing||Try not to overmix next time|
So there you have it. A quick rundown of what it takes to apply your knowledge to quick breads. When you are ready to tackle a bit more engaged baking, head on over to Yeast Breads for a different take on traditional baking methods!