Quick bread bonanza
December 17, 2015
I decided, somewhere along the way, that loaves of quick bread would be nice little Christmas gifts for folks, either by themselves or as part of a gift basket, so yesterday was quick bread baking day.
Quick breads, for those of you who aren’t bakers, are non-yeast breads. These breads don’t require the lengthy rising time (often amounting to three hours, or more if it’s a triple rise bread), so you can get more made in a shorter period of time. It gets its rise, rather, from the addition of soda or baking powder, or both, and eggs. It’s often, but not always, sweet (I’ve made a beer cheese quick bread that’s pretty doggoned marvelous), and, like yeast bread, it makes your house smell absolutely glorious.
Since I doggoned near burned the place down yesterday when I let some jar lids on the stove boil dry when I was sterilizing them for apple butter — burned rubber, anyone? — it’s nice to have the place smelling good.
So far, I’ve made four small loaves of maple date nut bread, and seven mini-loaves of apple-cherry-pecan bread. Next up, soon as the cream cheese and butter soften, are loaves of lemon thyme tea bread. Haven’t decided if those will be small loaves or mini loaves.
The maple date nut bread recipe comes from Midwest Living, and I found it searching for a quick bread using dates on the Interwebs. It sounded good. It smells divine. I may have to pull one of those loaves and eat it here.
The recipe, which makes one 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pan (I doubled it, and used smaller foil pans that are about 6 x 2.5 x 3):
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup diced pitted dates
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, put the dates and the butter, pour the boiling water over them, and stir until the butter is melted. Add the maple syrup, and when it’s cool enough not to cook the egg, the beaten egg, and mix well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened; the batter may be lumpy, and that’s fine. Fold in the pecans. Baked in greased loaf pan or pans.
I used essentially the same recipe for the apple-cherry bread, but I subbed a cup of dried cherries for the dates, and 3/4 cup of the apple butter I made earlier in the week for the maple syrup. Since the apple butter is not as sweet as maple syrup, I added a half-cup of dark brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon, because it felt like the right thing to do.
This made seven mini-loaves, two of which went into foil pans I forgot to grease. Oh, well. They’ll come out, or they won’t. At least since they’re foil, I can cut them and peel them away.
Finally, there were five mini-loaves of lemon-thyme tea bread with a lemon glaze. Anxious to try this. It smelled so good. The recipe:
- 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp snipped, minced lemon thyme or regular thyme
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 recipe lemon glaze
Stir together the dry stuff except the sugar, but including the thyme and lemon zest. Cream the butter and cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy; add the sugar, then the egg. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar alternately with milk. Bake in greased 8 x 4 x 2 loaf pan for 50 minutes.
Glaze warm loaf with a glaze made of 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice.
I doubled the recipe to get the five mini-loaves.
I even made little jars of honey butter to give with the breads. Two parts softened butter, one part honey, a dash of vanilla, and whip it up with the whisk attachment in your mixer. That ought to be popular. I can testify it’s excellent on the date-nut bread.
I have still to make cookies and candy. If I were ambitious, I would get candy, which is stovetop, made while the bread is baking. I may not be ambitious enough. We shall see. I’ve also made some homemade dulce de leche, which involves simmering a can of Eagle Brand condensed milk (or whatever brand of same you have on hand) for two hours or so in water on the stove. That will find its way into some preparation before this adventure is over. I’m thinking a shortbread cookie I roll out, spread with the caramel, roll up, chill, slice and bake. Ya think? I have a recipe for shortbread sandwich cookies with dulce de leche that might work a bit better. We shall see.
More baking and sweets making to ensue, but I’m headed out today to deliver some holiday presents and pick up some caviar and maybe some Jones’ Barbecue while I’m about it, so what I don’t get done today will have to wait.
If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want any of these treats, you might want to show up and lend a hand in the kitchen.