My very favorite thing to make in the kitchen is something baked, sweet and easy. I don’t like to spend a lot of time, but I want something that looks like I did. Quick breads are the perfect answer to all those things. Most of the quick bread recipes on my blog are very simple and call for ingredients you already have in your pantry. Once in a while I’ll challenge myself and make something a little more involved but not very often! I seem to be getting a lot of the same questions when I post a bread recipe so I thought I would address them all at once. I came up with 10 tips for perfect quick breads so lets get started.
1.) Pans are Important.
A few years ago I discovered a line of bakeware available at Williams-Sonoma. It’s called Goldtouch and these pans really do, in my opinion, make a difference. The first thing I bought were the cookie sheets and I fell in love after using them one time. Since then I have added several more pieces. I ask for them for Christmas because they are a bit pricey. The mini loaf pan is my favorite but I also have the individual mini loaf pans. Every single loaf comes out baked evenly and moist.
2.) Prepare your pans well.
Several years ago I discovered a product called Baker’s Joy. I don’t know how long it’s been around but it’s what I use to prepare my baking pans.
3.) Oven Placement: Bake at the top.
I have cooked in only three different ovens in the past 32 years. In all of my ovens, baked items always came out better if I put a rack near the top of the oven. I know all ovens aren’t the same so try out different placements. The top of the oven is what has worked for me.
4.) Mix the dry ingredients first.
Some recipes tell you to do this and some don’t. I always do it because I think it makes sense and is easier too. I have a clear pyrex bowl, I measure everything out and then use a whisk to gently mix it all together.
5.) Always add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
The other way around just doesn’t work…ever! What I do is mix all the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, etc.) along with the sugar in the bowl of my standing mixer. When it’s well mixed I then add the dry ingredients. Nuts or any other type of addition can be folded in at the end.
6.) Glaze: how to avoid a mess!
Many times quick bread recipes call for some sort of glaze to be poured over the loaves after baking. I’m not going to lie…I have made such messes trying to do this! The easiest way to avoid a mess is to place a cooling rack on a large piece of foil. Place your loaves on the rack and then pour the glaze over them. Any glaze that runs off will fall on the foil. The only clean up is to toss the foil in the trash!
7.) Baking Soda or Baking Powder?
Personally, I like to use both. I have found that recipes that call for both usually bake more evenly and are fluffier. When recipes are written, usually the leavening agent is chosen based on the acid present in the ingredients. I don’t really understand the chemical part of it…all I know is that when I use both baking soda and baking powder, I get a better result. Of course, if you are a stickler for following a recipe exactly, you might want to skip over this tip!
8.) Salted butter or unsalted butter?
This one may be a shocker, but I always use salted butter when I bake. Depending on the recipe, I then cut back on the salt measurement. If a recipe calls for only 1/4 t. salt I just leave it out completely. It’s a personal choice. I like the taste of salted butter better. If you’ve never baked with salted butter, you should try it. It’s really very good!
9.) Wrap your bread while it’s still warm.
This little tip came from my friend, Connie. The first time I tried it was with my Pumpkin Bread. Oh my gosh. What a difference it made! After I take my loaves out of the pans, I let them cool for a bit on racks. Before they are completely cool, I wrap them in Press’n Seal. If I am freezing any, I put the wrapped loaves in a ziploc freezer bag and they are good for months. Of course, if you have a glaze to add this won’t work. But if not, I highly recommend it.
10.) Dry roast the nuts.
This only takes a few minutes and it makes such a difference. If your recipe calls for walnuts, almonds or pecans, sprinkle them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes. About halfway through, shake the pan to move them around. If you start to smell them that means they are done. Roasting the nuts brings out the flavor and makes them so incredibly tasty that it’s worth the extra effort!
I have started putting the pan measurements and separate baking times on my bread recipes. I am in the process of adding it to all the older recipes too. Now that you have these tips in your arsenal, stop by your kitchen and bake something amazing!