Baking Quick Breads

With quick breads you can have fresh-baked goodies without sacrificing the whole day.

| December/January 1993

Maybe you remember waking up to your Grandma's fresh-baked bread cooling on a countertop, filling the house with its warm, sugary aroma. Or maybe you wish you'd had a Grandma who baked. Either way, most everyone appreciates a piping hot loaf of bread come wintertime.

While I'd like to tell you how I rise every day at dawn to set the yeast in motion, kneading and working the dough all morning — this piece ain't fiction. The real story is that I'm a teacher, surrounded by very active children by 9 A.M. each Monday through Friday, with no morning time to spare. However, I constantly get cravings for slices of homemade bread, so I found a solution: quick breads. Because there's no yeast in these breads, I'm not tied to the house for hours waiting for them to rise.

Quick breads are ideal for the holidays, the busiest baking season. (" 'Tis the season to be jolly," not flat out exhausted.) They take up less preparation time than cakes, can be frozen for a few weeks in advance, and are a heck of a lot easier to wrap than Christmas cookies.

But you know I'm a health buff, and you're probably wondering how we're going to magically produce moist, cake-like breads while using whole grains and less sugar and fat. Don't worry, you'll hardly know they're gone. Instead of using cups of sugar, we'll sweeten with fruit or other natural sweeteners. For not-so-sweet breads such as cornbread, we'll cut back on the oil and buttermilk. The main objective is to create healthier alternatives to old family recipes. The other goal is to avoid making bread so solid it could brick a patio.

Keys to Success


  • Use whole wheat pastry flour (made from soft wheat berries) instead of whole wheat flour to produce a lighter bread.
  • Buy small cans of baking powder to ensure the powder remains fresh.
  • Use yogurt to create moist, less crumbly breads.
  • Cut down on sugar by using honey, rice syrup, barley malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, applesauce, pureed fruit, and fruit-juice concentrate. Make breads sweeter by adding fresh or dried fruit such as currants. A little sugar, however, is sometimes necessary to help the bread rise.
  • Add extra flavor by adding spices, lemon or orange rind, extracts, and liqueurs.
  • Reduce fat by using one egg instead of two, or two egg whites in place of one whole egg. By using mashed banana, pumpkin, or yogurt, you can reduce the amount of oil to only two tablespoons.


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