Muffins and pancakes, tea loaves and biscuits, waffles and scones and coffee cakes are all part of the family of baked products known as quick breads, so named because they assemble almost effortlessly and donít depend on slow-rising yeast to develop their volume. Instead, they use quick-acting chemical leaveners: baking powder and baking soda.
Depending on the final result, a quick bread begins as either a semi-liquid, somewhat flowing batter or a dough. Batters are too runny to hold a shape, so they must be baked in molds like loaf pans, muffin tins, cornstick plaques, and waffle irons. Doughs, such as biscuits and scones, are rolled and cut with a sharp-edged cutter or knife, although some are dropped from a spoon to form irregular rounds or dumplings.
Quick breads are a boon because they are so easy to prepare, demanding minutes of your time rather than hours. But, unlike yeast doughs, most quick-bread batters and doughs canít be left to sit while you are busy elsewhere. If made with baking powder, they will begin to rise as soon as liquid is added. These mixtures should be baked as soon as possible for maximum volume, unless the recipe specifies that it is formulated to be made now and used later.
Another delight of quick-bread batters and doughs is their diversity. By varying the additions of fruits, nuts, spices, and grains, or by experimenting with different liquids, (juice or yogurt instead of milk, for example) or a fruit purťe, you create something entirely new. All of our quick bread recipes deliciously demonstrate how varied this delightful family of breads can be. Youíll find in our archives moist and tender loaves like Raisin-Cinnamon Apple Bread and Graham Cracker Tea Bread; breakfast treats such as Multi-Grain Waffles and buttery Pikelets; plus aromatic coffee and tea accompaniments including Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts and Apricot-Prune Coffee Cake.
The baking pan needs only partial greasing: With a pastry brush or paper towel, apply a thin layer of shortening across the bottom and just slightly up each side. Coat evenly and completely, but donít use too much or the finished loaf will be gummy.
Making a Well
Put all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well for eggs and other liquids in the center of the flour mixture with the back of a wooden spoon.
Before combining eggs with other liquid ingredients, break up the yolks by beating briskly with a fork. Use a bowl that is big enough for all the liquid ingredients.
Adding Egg Mixture
Mix beaten egg with the other liquid ingredients until thoroughly blended. Pour into the well that you have created in the center of the flour mixture.