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Mastering Quick Breads and Muffins

Mastering Quick Breads and Muffins

It's no secret that fresh-baked muffins and breads turn an ordinary meal into something special. Luckily, both are a breeze to make!

By FamilyTime

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Quick breads are far easier to make than yeast bread, mainly because they rarely require kneading and never need to rise in a warm, cozy corner of the kitchen. Just mix 'em up and go!

Muffins are usually made from the same batters and are just as easy to make. All you need is a muffin pan and a hungry family!

The Ingredients
These batters are made with flour, eggs, liquid, and sugar. They may flavored with fruit, nuts, chocolate, corn or other grains, cheese, vegetables, and even ham or bacon. The choice is yours.

Some commonplace and familiar quickbreads are cornbread, zucchini bread and cranberry-nut bread.

For most recipes, you will need all-purpose flour, large eggs, and granulated sugar. The liquid is most often water or milk, although it might be buttermilk, yogurt, or even juice.

Quick breads and muffins are leavened with baking powder and, somewhat less commonly, baking soda. These react with liquid and heat (the oven's heat) to release the gasses necessary to raise the bread.

Double-acting baking powder, which is both an acid and alkaline, was developed to guarantee proper rising. Baking soda, an alkaline, is effective when paired with an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, and molasses. Follow the recipe to know which to use.

The Equipment
Quick breads are most often bakec in standard loaf pans, square "brownie" pans, or mini loaf pans. Muffins require muffin pans, usually with six to 12 cups.

Muffin cups should be well greased and filled only about two-thirds of the way. Pour a little water into any empty cups to insure even baking. Paper liners work, well, too, for baking muffins and cupcakes.

The Technique
Once the ingredients are mixed, quick bread and muffin batters need only brisk, brief mixing. Usually 15 to 20 strokes with a sturdy spoon or wire whisk do the trick. A few lumps are not a problem -- they dissolve during baking.

Ingredients such as chopped fruit and nuts should be added at the end of mixing. Use only a few strokes to incorporate them.

When the batter is mixed, put the bread in the oven within 10 to 20 minutes. Before the advent of double-acting baking powder, speed was more crucial but it is still a consideration.

For convenience, some cooks mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine them just before baking. This measuring and fixing can be done the night before if you are planning to make muffins or quick breads for breakfast or brunch.

Quick breads take 50 to 60 minutes to bake while muffins take from 15 to 25 minutes. Both tend to crack on top, which is normal. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick or metal skewer into them; it should come out clean.

Quick breads should stay in their pans for about 10 minutes before being turned out to cool completely. Muffins should sit in their cups for about five minutes before removal. Otherwise, they might crumble.

Serve the bread or muffins either warm or at room temperature. Make sure they cool completely before storing or freezing.

Yum! Nothing compares to just-baked breads and muffins.

Try some we have on our site. There are lots more but we think these five are a good place to start:

Banana-Salsa Bread; Aloha Bread; Classic Corn Muffins; Apple Cinnamon Muffins; and Blueberry White Chip Muffins.

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Tagged With: muffins, quick breads, baking powder, cornbread, zucchini bread

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