A complete guide to the many types of quick bread and the three mixing methods used to create them. Plus plenty of quick bread examples.
When I want a quick and simple, no-fuss baking project I often turn to quick bread. I'm sure when you hear the words "quick bread" your first thought is a loaf of bread. Perhaps flavored with zucchini, apples, or maybe pumpkin.
But the term quick bread is a generic term that refers to baked goods that are made with the use of chemical leaveners such as baking powder and/or baking soda.
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- Types of Quick Breads
- Why is Quick Bread Called Quick Bread?
- What Makes Quick Bread Rise?
- Why Do Some Recipes Use Both Baking Soda and Baking Powder?
- Three Types of Quick Bread
- Mixing Methods for Quick Bread
- Types of Baking Pans
- General Tips for Making Quick Bread
- Examples of Quick Breads and Recipes
Types of Quick Breads
Quick bread is more than just your trusty loaf of banana bread, pumpkin bread, or zucchini bread. All of the items mentioned below are technically quick bread. Pretty much any recipe that uses chemical leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder could be considered a quick bread.
Why is Quick Bread Called Quick Bread?
They are called "quick" because they are "quick" to prepare and can be baked immediately after mixing rather than waiting hours for traditional yeast breads to rise.
What Makes Quick Bread Rise?
Baking Soda: Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a base ingredient that can be used as a leavening agent in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient. Do you remember creating a volcano in science class by mixing baking soda and vinegar? That same reaction happens within quick bread.
When baking soda combines with an acidic ingredient it begins to bubble and release carbon dioxide. This release of gas causes baked goods to rise. This reaction begins immediately so it is best to put your baked goods in the oven as quickly as possible.
Baking soda is four times stronger than baking powder. This means it will take ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to leaven one cup of flour or one teaspoon of baking powder to leaven one cup of flour.
Common ingredients that are acidic and will have a chemical reaction with baking soda include:
- Yogurt and Greek Yogurt
- Natural Cocoa Powder (Not dutch processed)
- Fruit Juices like lemon juice, orange juice, or lime juice
- Brown Sugar
- Sour Cream
- Cream of Tarter
Baking Powder: Baking powder is a combination of base and acidic ingredients. It contains baking soda (base), cream of tartar (acid), and cornstarch to prevent clumping.
Most baking powders are double-acting, meaning there is one reaction when they get wet (mixing dry ingredients into wet ingredients) and a second reaction when they are heated.
Because baking powder already contains an acidic ingredient it is often used in recipes that do not call for additional acidic ingredients.
No baking powder? Did you know you can make your own baking powder?
For more information on the differences between baking powder and baking soda check out this post on Sally's Baking Addiction. Or watch this video from my favorite food scientist Alton Brown.
Why Do Some Recipes Use Both Baking Soda and Baking Powder?
Thicker batters often require additional leavening. They may already contain an acidic ingredient but need the extra boost from baking powder to rise properly.
Another reason both baking soda and baking powder may be used in a recipe is to maintain an acidic twang in the final product.
For example, if all of the acid in buttermilk pancakes or a loaf of lemon bread is neutralized while reacting with baking soda you will lose their natural tanginess. By adding baking powder you can use less baking soda and achieve the same rise while preserving some of the acidic ingredients.
Three Types of Quick Bread
Quick bread can be classified into three different types of batter.
Pour Batters: This type of batter has a dry-to-liquid ratio of 1:1, which allows it to be poured from the mixing bowl. It produces a moist and dense baked good. Examples include pancake and waffle batters.
Drop Batters: A drop batter has a dry-to-liquid ratio of 3:1. The batter is thicker and needs to be scraped from the bowl. It produces a moist, but fluffy baked good. Examples include muffins, biscuits, loaf breads, and coffee cakes.
Stiff Doughs: This type of batter has a dry-to-liquid ratio of 7:1. The batter is firm enough to roll and shape by hand. It produces a very light and fluffy baked good. Examples include biscuits, doughnuts, and scones.
Mixing Methods for Quick Bread
There are three basic mixing methods for quick bread, the muffin method, the creaming method, and the biscuit method. I've described each method below as well as included video demonstrations.
The muffin method combines the liquid, sugar, liquid fat (such as melted butter or oil), and eggs at the same time. The dry ingredients are then added to the liquid ingredients. This method is commonly used for making muffins, coffee cake, loaves, pancakes, waffles, or my Fresh Apple Cake.
There may be some lumps and clumps with this mixing method which is perfectly fine. You don't want to over-mix the batter while trying to make it completely smooth.
The creaming method uses softened fat rather than liquid fat. The softened fat is creamed together with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. The eggs are then added one at a time. Finally, the dry ingredients and remaining liquid ingredients are alternately added. This method is used for various types of cookies. Try these fresh mint cookies or these caramel-stuffed peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
The biscuit method involves first cutting solid fat into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. I find a food processor particularly great for this process. Then the liquid ingredients are added. This method produces flaky items such as biscuits and scones.
Whichever method you are using it is important to mix the batter or dough as little as possible. This limits the amount of gluten that is developed ensuring the final baking product will be light and tender.
Types of Baking Pans
Now that your quick bread is mixed it's time to bake! The type of pan you choose for baking makes a huge difference in the outcome of the final baked good.
Shiny Aluminum Pans produce baked goods that are consistent in color and texture. They prevent quick baked goods from becoming too dark on the bottom and around the sides of the pan.
Dark Nonstick Pans prevent baked goods from sticking but they tend to brown too quickly on the bottom and around the sides of the pan. To slow the browning process try reducing the oven temperature by 25°F.
Insulated Pans are made of two thin sheets of aluminum with a layer of air between them. Baked goods baked in insulated baking pans may require a longer baking time and often don't brown as well on the bottom and around the sides of the pan.
Ovenproof Glass pans like dark nonstick pans absorb heat quickly. Baked goods baked in glass tend to brown too quickly on the bottom and around the sides of the pan. To slow the browning process try reducing the oven temperature by 25°F.
Ceramic Pans are very similar to glass pans. The same guideline to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F applies as well. I usually reserve ceramic pans for casseroles I want to serve at the table because they come in a variety of decorative colors.
Disposable Aluminum Pans are perfect for baked goods which will be given away as gifts.
General Tips for Making Quick Bread
- Be careful to not overmix the ingredients. Over-mixing will create gluten and a tough baked good.
- Use a scale to measure ingredients. Accuracy matters when baking and the most accurate way to measure ingredients is by weight.
- Don't wait too long to bake. Chemical leavners are activated as soon as they mix with a liquid.
- Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean your quick bread is done.
- You can also use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. Most loaves of quick bread are done when the center of the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
For more information, check out this post How to Tell When Quick Bread is Done.
Examples of Quick Breads and Recipes
- Sourdough Snickerdoodles - Raspberries and Kohlrabi
- Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies - Raspberries and Kohlrabi
- Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies - Raspberries and Kohlrabi
- Amaretto Chocolate Chip Cookies - Raspberries and Kohlrabi
- Bacon Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies - Raspberries and Kohlrabi
- Ginger Snaps - Crave the Good
- Chewy Triple Chunk Cookies - Crunch and Cream
I am always looking for new quick bread recipes. What are your favorites?
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