January 20, 2011

Basic Quick Bread

Having a good basic quick bread recipe in your repertoire makes life easy when you want to use up some bananas or zucchini, or find yourself hosting a brunch, or just want something tasty while you watch the snowstorm blowing outside your window. Michael Ruhlman's Basic Quick Bread/Muffin Ratio from his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is an ideal place to begin.

Basic Quick Bread/Muffin Ratio
8 oz all-purpose flour
4 oz granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
8 oz milk
4 oz eggs (2 large)
4 oz unsalted butter, melted

Milk is fine, but I prefer buttermilk because it adds a bit of tang and creaminess without adding more fat. If you decide to use buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients.

The basic technique is easy. Preheat the oven to 400° (you'll lower to 350° at the start of baking). Whisk together the dry ingredients, whisk together the liquid ingredients (note the butter is melted). Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until the all the dry ingredients are just incorporated into the batter, then add whatever fruits, veggies, or nuts you wish.

This batter will make one 1-pound loaf, 5-6 large muffins, 10-12 regular muffins, or as many as 24 mini muffins, depending on the quantity of additions. Whatever you're baking in needs to be buttered if it isn't nonstick. Bake at 350° until done, 45-50 minutes or so for a loaf, up to 30 minutes for muffins. Baking time will vary depending on the amount of liquid in the additions. You'll just have to watch and smell, and check with a paring knife inserted into the center, which will come out clean when they're done.

The fun comes when you decide to vary things. That recipe is okay if you want a sweet loaf without a particular flavor, but maybe you want carrot or zucchini bread. For carrot or zucchini, you'll want ½-1 cup of grated vegetable. It helps to grate the veggies into acidulated water so they won't turn brown. Then drain very thoroughly, pressing the veggies against the strainer, to get out as much excess liquid as possible. Consider adding ½ cup of raisins or dried currants to the carrots, or maybe some diced dried pineapple. Zucchini goes well with ½ cup chopped walnuts--it's really nice to spread some fresh ricotta on a warm slice of zucchini bread, then maybe drizzle some honey on top.

For the bread in the picture, I used 2 ripe bananas, well-mashed, a rather generous ½ cup of mixed chopped walnuts and pecans, and about ¼ cup diced dried apricot. The large quantity of banana drove the baking time to 1 hour. It was worth the wait.

If you make some quick bread or any other recipe from my blog, I'd be really pleased to see photos and hear about the variations you've made. Drop by my Facebook page and post some pictures! While you're there, feel free to give it a thumbs up if you like the recipe. And those of you reading on Facebook, drop in to Stumptown Savoury. You aren't getting the right layout over there, just an ugly RSS feed.

Valentine's Day is coming. I think something in chocolate and flowers is needed, don't you?


  1. These look amazing..you are inspiring me to whip up a batch for breakfast!

  2. Thanks! If you do whip up a batch, feel free to post pictures on the Stumptown Savoury Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stumptown-Savoury/272442198939

  3. I have been looking forward to reading Ratio. I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, but this reinforces my idea that it's going to be well worth the read. Your variation looks delicious.

  4. Great recipe! The variation are definitely endless and a handful of chocolate chips would make it extra special, I agree.

  5. Ratio is a must-have book. You'll be sorry you waited!

  6. Chocolate chips and dried cherries would be good. Or any other combo,
    sweet or savory.

  7. I love your bread recipes! Do you weigh all your ingredients? I've heard that's the way to go when making bread b/c of the ratios. I think I'm def going to pick up Michael Ruhlman's book. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ooo. Buttermilk, butter, honey!!! I'm totally in!!

  9. I'm enjoying your posts and the sensible approach to baking. Thank you for sharing a mother recipe and the mention of Ratio!

  10. Yes, I usually weigh my ingredients. One cup will change depending on
    aeration and type of flour as well as the method you use to measure
    the cup, but weight is consistent. It's also much easier to scale
    recipes up or down as needed. Metric is best because it's easier than
    pounds and ounces.

  11. I love quick bread recipes and I love that I can add whatever I want to this. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Thanks! If you stroll through my blog you'll find that I mention and
    use Ratio often. If I could only keep one book that would be it.

    I "discovered" mother recipes and ratios years ago and use them often.
    It's an old concept--think of the five great Mother Sauces of French
    cuisine. Something good enough for Escoffier is good enough for me!

  13. Thank you for sharing. The recipe looks interesting. In Cyprus our basic recipe for bread does not inlcude dairy products or eggs. I thing I will give this recipe a try.

  14. Well, this is a specific type of bread, sort of like a cake but not as light or sweet. It is usually served at breakfast or as a snack.

  15. Looks like a pretty neat read.

  16. Yeast free bread!!!!! Yipppppeeeeeee!

  17. So, don't want to deal with yeast? But it's really easy to get along
    with. Even the wild yeast will cooperate with you if you let it. I'll
    walk you through yeast basics beginning in February.

  18. Great info!!! Love having the basic recipe from which so many fabulous quick breads can made...thank you!

  19. Very nice and useful post. Thank you!

  20. Banana, nuts, and apricots! Oh yum! And YES, I do think chocolate and flowers are needed :D

  21. Gareth,

    I love Ratio. If there was a cooking Bible for the home cook, it's this. It's a tight tie between Child's and Jacques' but Ruhlman lays it out so simple you can't not love it.

    good stuff

  22. Great basic recipe! Thanks for the book suggestion, I will have to check it out.

  23. So two questions for you...Is it sae to say that you can substitute buttermilk for milk in most breads and cakes if you add that 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda?

  24. Oh! other question...Is Apple Sauce for veggie oil always a safe substitute?

  25. It is usually safe to use buttermilk in place of milk. Applesauce for
    oil, however, is not always going to work. It depends on the function
    of the oil in the item. If the oil is there to protect gluten from the
    sharop edges on wheat husks like in whole wheat bread applesauce will
    not work. Also, applesauce is heavier and sometimes more wet than oil,
    so will alter the finished product considerably. Also remember tha oil
    is a fat but applesauce isn't so you'll lose some flavor and
    nutrients. Then there's the sweetness factor. Still, give it a try. If
    you like the finished product it worked.