When you are a mom, your time and energy are incredibly important, and nothing requires more time and energy when baking than bread made with yeast. That pesky little organism is often the reason that many moms don’t bake bread as often any more, unless its in a bread machine that you simply add ingredients too and press a button. (An incredible invention, by the way! Second only to the Crock Pot!)
Anyway, the mishaps, blunders, and bloopers that accompany the trials of yeast breadmaking have been recorded since the early days of yeast, around 4000 to 3000 BC, when the Egyptians first discovered the amazing powers of yeast, and added it to their baking recipes for a lighter fluffier bread. Breads up until that time had been simply a paste of water and flour, chewy and kind of bland to say the least. Breadmaking spread like wildfire over the European continent, with yeast leading the way, French artisan breadmakers making better lighter and tastier breads, all thanks to yeast! Unfortunately the power of yeast is only held back by its difficulty to work with, especially in the days before the little packets with instructions written on them. Bakers continued to experiment with other ways to add the reaction that created CO2 bubbles necessary for a light and fluffy bread, adding things like lye and sodium bicarbonate to their recipes. Baking soda was the most poular option until the 1800′s, but bakers and foodies alike were thrilled about the invention of baking powder, a reactive substance that not only helped the texture of their bread, but was not as bitter as baking soda. Baking powder was faster, more stable, and did not affect the taste of sweet breads, nor did it call for a starter batch like sourdough bread.
Thus heralded the invention of the quickbread recipe, a slightly denser usually fruit or veggie based bread that used baking powder or soda as its leavener, and was made faster,as it needs no rising time or kneading time. Squash type veggies are perfect as the main ingredient in a variety of quickbread recipes, as well as bananas, apples, corn and pumpkin.
Quickbreads are easily made into healthier recipes, as they require no butter, like some yeast based breads need for lightness, texture and stability, you can easily swap butter for applesauce in a quickbread recipe. You can also use artificial sweeteners with no detriment to the finished product. You can swap the standard all purpose flour for whole wheat, for extra fiber and nutrition, or if you are looking for a gluten free recipe, try a rice based or corn based flour. Even the orignal corbread popularized by the Mayan Indians in the days of Christopher Columbus is considered a quickbread!
Some tips for the best quickbreads:
- Never add baking soda or powder directly to liquids all by itself. It reacts with the liquid and you don’t want to waste the CO2 bubbles, so mix it in with your dry ingredients, until you are at the very lat step of mixing your wet and dry ingredients.
- Use the “well” method when adding your liquids to dry ingredients. Sift your flour and dry ingredients into a little pile on a cutting board or butcher’sblock, then using a large spoon, press a well into the center of the mound. Add your wet ingredients into the well, then gently mix to combine.
- Avoid overmixing your ingredients. Mix until just combined, leave a couple of lumps. The CO2 reaction only lasts so long, and you need those air bubbles to live as long as possible until you get the bread in the oven. Killing them by over-kneading or mixing them will result in dead bread, or chewy, thick, kinda gross bread.
- Remember that quick breads are usually very wet recipes, and are poured into a pan more often than shaped into a ball of dough. For uniform sizes and shapes, fill your bread pans about halfway, or muffin pans 2/3 of the way up, so that you don’t end up overflowing.
- Times vary for cooking based on oven temperature, density of your bread recipe, age of your baking soda, way to many variables to list here. So use the toothpick method when checking your bread, insert a dry fresh toothpick into the center of your bread, then pull it out the same way it was put in. If the toothpick is clean and still looks pretty dry, your bread is done. If it comes out with chunks, goo, or looks wets, leave your bread in the oven just a little bit longer, until the toothpick comes out dry.
- When cooling your quickbread, let them cool in pan until you can handle them, then pop them out and cool the rest of the way on a wire rack until they can be stored, wrapped, or eaten. The air circulating around the bottom of the bread will keep the crust from getting soggy.
Search “quick bread recipes” on Google, Cooks.com, or Allrecipes.com for a great recipe to add to your holiday baking! Quick breads are faster, more reliable and easier to make than yeast breads, and a homemade bread tastes and SMELLS much better than a store bought one.