Sliced warm with a steaming cup of tea, hot cocoa or coffee, quick breads take the hustle and bustle out of the mornings (or afternoons or evenings). A quick bread is good just about any time. And a good gluten free quick bread is just about as delightful as they come with the simple deliciousness that comes with mixing and baking without the rising and waiting.
The difference between a quick bread and a yeast bread is the fact that the yeast bread has yeast and requires a rise time. Whereas the quick bread is well, quick, with no rise time required. Most gluten free quick breads get their leavening, or rising, from other ingredients like eggs, and baking powder or baking soda. And, most quick breads freeze really well, allowing you to serve a quick treat anytime.
But, as with all gluten free baking, there are some essential steps to keep in mind when working with gluten free bread batter. Here are the main ones to ensure your loaf is nothing less than spectacular.
Make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature or warmer. Butter needs to be soft. Water may need to be heated. Eggs need to be warm. Each of these things combined together make for a quick bread that turns out as expected. If your ingredients are not at the right temperature it can mean major disaster for your baking results. Especially in the case of quick breads, since they come together quickly, the conditions need to be ideal to create a bread that turns out absolutely delicious.
Measure all your ingredients precisely. If you think that baking is exact, then gluten free baking is 10 times moreso. Flour must be measured or weighed to the exact specifications in the recipe. Liquids must be spot on. The reason for this exactness is due to the liquid to flour ratio that gluten free baking so readily relies on. A little more flour added here and it changes the ratio – this can result in dense or overly moist or gummy bread.
Since there is no yeast in a quick bread, there is no rising, and thus no shaping. Gluten free quick bread takes the shape of whatever pan it’s in. And it doesn’t change shape either. So if you put the batter in a round cake pan and leave an indention in the top, it will come out as a round loaf with an indention on the top. A small spreader tool might become one of your best little helpers for all things gluten free. This little tool helps you easily spread the batter out the way you want it. Create a swirl on the top of your quick bread loaf and it will probably bake just like that.
Although this is referenced in gluten free muffins, it deserves to be mentioned one more time – yogurt, sour cream, honey and brown sugar are all excellent moisture additives. Oh, and they are also (relatively) low in fat! While not all quick bread recipes will call for these little moisture filled goodies in the ingredients list, adding in a small amount would be a great flavor enhancer to any recipe.
Mix until it’s just mixed enough. That’s right. Mix the ingredients together until they are combined but don’t go overboard. Even though there is no gluten in gluten free recipes, thus no risk of overworking the gluten, you still don’t want the denseness that overmixing can cause. Quick breads, and muffins, and just about any other baked good, does not benefit from overmixing. In fact, it usually does more harm than good. Mix the batter up and then scrape it into your baking pan.
Fat is a good thing. This may sound strange but fats produce very tasty, tender quick breads. Now, not all recipes will contain a high amount of fat, but those that do most definitely produce a more moist and tender product than the non or low fat ingredients do. Having said that, it’s always up for debate – some recipes are designed to be low fat and so they use very little butter or cream, but for the most part, a higher fat content equals tastier results.
Smaller loaves are often better than big loaves. A great big loaf of bread sounds appealing, but it doesn’t always result in a nice moist loaf. Oftentimes, what started out as a tasty looking batter becomes a loaf of dry and dense bread after baking. If this has happened to you, not to worry – it’s more likely the size of the pan was to blame rather than your method. Large loaves take a longer time to bake and therefore run the risk of staying wet in the middle while the outer edges are fully cooked. The solution is just to bake the loaf or loaves in smaller size pans, for less time. The result will be an evenly baked loaf every time.
One final note – baking gluten free quick bread is one of the most rewarding aspects of baking. The method is fairly quick and the results can be taste-tested in under an hour.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these easy steps, happy baking!