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?