Quick Breads (How to Make Bread Really Fast)
I've been making bread for about a year now using a sour-dough method. I do like this way of producing bread as it feels kind of natural (flour and water combining together, releasing the natural yeast spores in the atmosphere etc).
However, the one thing I find a bit annoying is that it's so time consuming - to make a good quality loaf usually takes me 24 hours, since I leave the dough overnight, knead it again and leave it another few hours before baking.
So what do I do if I need a loaf quickly?
The thing I really like about quick bread (apart from the fact that it's quick) is that it's very easy to add extra ingredients. A handful of pine nuts or a bit of cheese can make all the difference, and if you're willing to take a few risks, there's a host of fascinating recipes out there in Bread World to discover for yourself.
I should point out that when I'm adding additional ingredients, I don't worry too much about measuring correct amounts - part of the fun of experimenting with bread-making is trying something and finding out if it works. So far, none of my breads has been disastrous (though a couple of them were a bit chewy).
- 450-500 g Plain Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
- 400 ml/14 fl oz Milk or Buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/gas 7 (this is assuming you have a good oven - I don't, so I cook at 170C, which seems to work).
- Add the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix together.
- Pour in the milk/buttermilk and mix with your hand. This can be a messy process so you might want to use a spoon. Empty the contents onto a well-floured surface, unless (like me) you prefer to use Olive Oil.
- Mix it quickly and don't overwork the dough. Shape your creation into a round.
- Lightly flour (or oil) a baking tray and place the dough in the middle of the tray.
- Cut a cross in the top of the dough (to help it rise) and pop it in the oven. It'll take 30-45 minutes to cook. It's a good idea to reduce the heat slightly after about 10 minutes and continue cooking until the loaf has a nice golden colour. Turn it over and give it a tap on the base. If it sounds hollow, it's done.
- Let the bread cool on a wire rack before eating with lots of butter and jam.
Notes on the Ingredients
I like to use a combination of two types of flour - usually half wholemeal or whole grain and half plain or strong white flour. You'll notice I've suggested an amount between 450 and 500g - this rather depends on how you like your bread mix. I find the smaller amount makes for a very sloppy mix, though the final loaf is just as yummy, but if you prefer an easier (ie less sloppy) mix, go for the 500g.
Milk or Buttermilk?
As I've never tasted buttermilk, I've never used it in cooking, but obviously if you're partial to the stuff, feel free to chuck it in. (The chap in the video below uses buttermilk). For the record, I use the plain old semi-skimmed stuff and I've never had any complaints.
There's no real limit to what you can add to a quick bread loaf, and as long as you're willing to experiment, there's no reason why you can't try something different each time:
- Cheese - 50-100g of your favourite cheese works well, though if it's a particularly strong flavour, you might want to hold off a bit.
- Tinned tomatoes - these work quite well too, but be sure not to add more than about 200g (a standard tin is about 400g). Also, add less milk, otherwise you'll end up with a very sloppy mix.
- Vegetables - I like 50g of thinly sliced celery, bell peppers or grated carrot.
- Nuts - walnuts, pecans and pine nuts work well, though not all in the same loaf!