Thursday, December 4, 2008

'Tis the Season for Quick Breads

There is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread. On a chilly winter night, I love to make a big pot of soup and serve it with warm bread and a salad. But with the busyness of the season, I don't always have time to make a traditional yeast bread. Quick breads do the trick - they are fast to make, delicious, and my house smells great.

Quick breads include categories of baked goods that are leavened (rise) without yeast. Traditional bread dough and pizza crusts, for example, need yeast to rise, and rely on warm temperature and active kneading to rise, and this process often takes an hour or two before they are ready for the oven. In contrast, quick breads use leavening agents such as baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar, which are much faster and less fickle than yeast, resulting in a more uniform product that is faster to prepare and equally as tasty.

Most quick bread recipes rely on five basic ingredients: flour, baking powder or soda, eggs, fat of some sort (butter, oil, margarine) and milk or other liquid. Additional ingredients are added for flavor and texture. Here is one of my favorite quick bread recipes that is simple to make, tasty and very practical during this busy holiday season.

Cheddar-Herb Bread
If you want your house to smell like homemade bread, try this recipe. It’s great with soup or stew, slices well and keeps several days. Serve it hot or cold, or lightly toasted.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup milk
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients together (flour through salt). Cut butter into flour until crumbly. Add cheese. Lightly beat egg into milk. Add to crumble mixture, stir quickly to moisten. Spread into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

No comments: