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Baking Quality Quick Breads

Blueberry muffins for a special brunch, zucchini bread from the monstrous squash your neighbor gave you last summer, banana bread anytime you bought more fruit than you could handle, or pumpkin spice loaves for holiday gifts.... Quick bread is popular year-round. It's versatile, it's a crowd-pleaser, it's easy, and as the name implies, it's quick!

The term 'quick bread' refers to any bread that uses chemical leavening agents as in baking powder and or baking soda as opposed to yeast, and requires no kneading or rising time. The definition includes pancakes, waffles, scones, biscuits, coffee cakes, muffins and loaves. Usually when we say 'quick bread, though, we most often think of the last two. Muffins and loaves keep well, they're great for breakfast, snacks and side dishes, they're handy for using up any abundance of fruit you may have, and they're great to give as gifts, too! As fast and easy as quick breads are to make, there are a few pointers we have for you so you can make your muffins and loaves even better.

Additions and Substitutions
Quick bread recipes are fairly versatile ~ you can add and substitute ingredients with greater freedom than you can with most other baked goods. To lower the fat, you can substitute some of the oil with an equal amount of almost any fruit puree { applesauce, baby food prunes, pumpkin puree, mashed bananas }. You can add nuts and dried fruits to your heart's content, and substitute one kind of nut, dried fruit or fresh fruit for another.

When you use dried fruit in a quick bread recipe, try soaking the fruit first. Not only will this make the fruit moist and tender, but adding moisture to the fruit before you put it into the batter will also preserve the moisture of the bread because the fruit will soak up less moisture from the batter while it bakes. Place the dried fruit in a heatproof bowl and pour just enough boiling water over it to cover it up. Let it soak for 15 minutes or so, then drain and add to the finished batter. If you want to get fancy, you can even soak the fruit in hot apple or orange juice. Or, soak the fruit overnight in whiskey or rum to add a twist of sophistication.

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