I am a confessed carbohydrate addict – “carboholic,” if you will. I can’t get enough bread, cake, rolls, doughnuts, crackers, pretzels – if it’s made with flour, I like it.
In addition to cooking, I love to bake. But when it comes to bread, sometimes I just don’t have the patience that yeast breads demand.
It is said that cooking is art and baking is science. When it comes to bread, science definitely is the operative word, as the baker depends on fermentation, gas production, heat, leavening and a lot of other chemical miracles.
If you’re like me, and you need to satisfy your bread jones really fast, there are these amazing concoctions called quick breads. Scones and biscuits fall into this category, as do cornbread and muffins.
In a professional competition several years ago, while I failed to win a medal (I missed by two-tenths of a point), a quick bread that I made as an accompaniment to one of my courses, caught the attention of one of the judges. He asked for the recipe. Now this guy is a certified master chef – that’s as big and as high as it gets in my biz. And he asked me for my quick bread recipe. That blew me away.
But that’s the sort of thing that quick breads can do. The one I made for that competition includes black olives and roasted garlic. I’ve got one that uses tomatoes and piquant spices, as well as one whose principal ingredient is beer. Have I whetted your appetite for quick breads yet?
So while regular yeast breads can take hours and even as long as a day and a half to go through every process, quick breads are just that: they’re quick. They can be made in about an hour, some even quicker.
Even though quick breads also depend on chemistry, they bypass the use of yeast and the leavening process. Some yeast breads and rolls need two rises, prolonging the wait for the end product.
Baking soda and baking powder, separately or together and in combination with ingredients such as buttermilk, whole milk and eggs – well, it’s acids, bases and chemical reactions, kids. Bypassing yeast and waiting for dough to rise: it’s a good thing.
Now it helps if you’re a “carboholic” because quick breads also need to be eaten quickly. They generally don’t hold up well any time after you serve them for the first time, hot from the oven. They simply do not reheat well, which is why I will never buy packaged scones under any circumstance. They’re dry and bland and do not resemble in any way what a freshly made scone tastes like.
Once you see how easy it is to make quick breads, you can add to your repertoire and make them regularly. The occasion doesn’t have to be special, even though the recipe I’m about to share with you is. Try it. You’ll see – better yet, you’ll taste – what I’m talking about.
Roasted Garlic and Olive Quick Bread
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large garlic bulbs, roasted, pulp squeezed out, mashed and reserved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup oil-cured black ripe olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix mashed roasted garlic, melted butter, orange zest and pepper flakes. Beat in the egg and milk.
Beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, fully incorporating each addition. Fold in the olives.
Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack and serve while still warm.
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