Quick breads are a versatile and delicious treat everyone enjoys. From classic banana bread to zesty lemon loaves, the possibilities are endless. Explore these tips and tricks to help you create the best quick bread loaves.
What is a quick bread?
The difference between quick bread and regular bread is that quick breads don’t use yeast for leavening. Instead, other leavening agents are deployed, such as baking soda, baking powder or tartaric acid, otherwise known as cream of tartar.
Paired with an acid such as buttermilk, sour milk or even lemon juice, those alternant leavening agents help your loaf rise without using yeast. This quick leavening often occurs right in the oven, so they’re quick to make when you’re short on time.
Yeast breads, on the other hand, take longer to make because you must let the yeast do the heavy lifting in the bread. This means you’re left waiting for the yeast to do its job rather than getting on with it quickly.
Yeast breads and quick breads have their place in the kitchen and your recipe box. Which one you make depends on your needs and the time available.
“I love quick breads because so many of them taste like desserts but aren’t really desserts. They’re great for anything from breakfast to snacks and more, and they’re quick to make and throw together then bake off in a single pan rather than taking the time to measure everything out. Plus, they’re so easy to make!”
— Michelle Price, Honest and Truly
Tips to make the best quick breads
Follow these tips to ensure you’re making the best loaf.
- Measure carefully: Your best bet to measure flour accurately is to weigh it. If that isn’t an option, loosen it with a spoon before scooping it into the measuring cup.
- Fresh leavening agents: Try to use the freshest leavening agents. Consider replacing them if they’re old or have been sitting open for a while. Buy the small size of leavening agents so they don’t get stale.
- Don’t beat the batter: Quick bread batters don’t need to be vigorously beaten. Lumps in quick bread batter are ok stir just enough to combine ingredients.
- Preheat the oven: The loaf going straight from the mixing bowl to the loaf pan to the hot oven is the best way to bake a quick bread. The instant heat ensures a proper rise and an even bake.
- Use the correct pan size: Switching or changing the pan size can cause problems with your loaf. If you switch the pan size, your loaf may take longer to cook or remain underbaked in the middle while the outside is well done.
- Leave the oven shut: If you check the bread too soon, your loaf will collapse. If you open the door or slam the oven door, the top may fall into the loaf. Check it about five minutes before the recipe says it might be done. If you wait, the bread will almost be done and won’t collapse.
- Check for doneness: Insert a toothpick or bamboo skewer into the loaf. The loaf is done when it comes out clean or with just moist crumbs on it. If it has batter on it, the loaf is underbaked.
- Cool: To cut even slices, allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Then turn it out on a cooling rack and let it cool completely. You can slice it while it’s warm, but it slices better when thoroughly cooled.
- Let it rest: Many quick breads taste better the next day. So if you can wait, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap once it’s cool. The next day slice and enjoy for best flavor. If the recipe calls for icing and you want to serve it the next day, go ahead and ice it the next day for the best results.
“I love quick breads because they’re fast, filling and a great way to use up my leftover fruit and veggies in a sneaky way (that my hubby and kids don’t complain about.) We all love banana bread, apple bread and pumpkin bread in any season.”— Sarita Harbour, Recipes From Leftovers
How to serve quick breads
Enjoy quick breads sliced and eaten just that way, like a slice of bread. Butter or homemade water bath canned jelly makes an excellent addition to a slice as well.
“I love quick breads because the ease of cutting myself a thin slice of bread versus grabbing a big slice of cake just feels more wholesome! Plus you can really control that butter to bread ratio, not to mention toast it to your liking. This is crucial stuff, people.”– Ksenia Prints, At the Immigrant’s Table
You can even toast a slice in the toaster or toaster oven. Toasting lends a subtly different flavor to your loaf. Or try making French toast with slices using your favorite French toast recipe.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Work your way through the tips next time you make a loaf. Discover that you can enjoy the process of baking and savor the delicious results of your homemade quick bread.
Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska is on a mission to teach modern family-oriented home cooks how to make old-fashioned foods new again. She shares her passion for home cooking, backyard gardening, and homesteading on her website and blog, LittleHouseBigAlaska.com.