What's A Quick Bread?

If pulling out a mixer to cream the butter and sugar is someone's idea of quick, I won't mind having my forehead branded with the word "BUM". Sorry, overdose of Slave Hunter.

That is exactly where this banana bread recipe was listed in the "Quick Bread" section of Joy of Cooking '97 ed.

I can't claim that I was conned into making this thinking that it was quick since I have made this before. But, quick or not, this recipe is a keeper. Just remember to go easy on the sugar.

But I am curious to know what actually does "quick bread" mean and where do we draw the lines between this, the cake and the bread?

According to Epicurious food dictionary, it means "bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. That's because the leavener in such a bread is usually baking powder or baking soda, which, when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately. In the case of double-acting baking powder, oven heat causes a second burst of rising power. Eggs can also be used to leaven quick breads. This genre includes most biscuits, muffins, popovers and a wide variety of sweet and savory loaf breads."

Quick breads can be made by any of the following methods:

1. Muffin method. The easiest and has the lowest mess factor. Dry ingredients in a bowl and wet ones in another. When ready, just mix them up and stir until well combined. However, there is a cost to this, the texture of the bread will be dense and possibly squat looking.

2. Rubbing in method. I was taught this in home ec lesson, but I can't recall what I was making then. Anyway, this is another easy method, or they would not be teaching it in schools to hare-brained girls. Start with chilled cubed butter and rub them into a bowl of dry ingredients with your finger tips. But be forewarned that the mess factor can quickly escalate if you have too much fun and your fingers linger too long in the bowl. The mix is ready when it appears to be sandy or crumbly. This can be done in a food processor.

3. Creaming method. Typical method for making cakes whereby the butter and sugar are creamed before adding dry ingredients. If you want an arm workout, go ahead and do this by hand. If not, pull out your mixer. Because the air is beaten into the batter, the texture will be lighter and more cakelike.

In my books, I would draw the line for "quick bread" at Method #3, and at #2 as well if the recipe specifically calls for a food processor. As the name suggests, it is suppose to be quick, straight forward, accomodating (in terms of skill level and ingredients) and almost idiot proof. It shouldn't require a mixer nor food processor; if you have the use of your hands, you can make them too. Ultimately, it is suppose to be a good platform for a freshie baker to start dipping his or her toes in and building rapport with the oven.

And also in my books, you won't find the term "quick bread", it would be more accurately named "chemically leavened baked goods", which is what baking powder and baking soda really are, or "egg leavened baked goods".

So that we are all on the same page in my books, whenever the word "bread" appears on this site, it refers to the yeasted variant only.

After re-arranging this "quick bread" catagory into sub-catagories, I realised that so far I have only attempted six out of the eleven sub-catagories. And this could only mean more experimenting! Except waffles, which I wouldn't be able to make without an iron, I hope to work down the list for remaining sub-catagory and share them here.


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