Chapter 3 of Unit 1 in our ongoing Home Ec series provides a fairly in-depth look at quick breads or what the book refers to as “other bland foods” suitable for breakfast. It includes a scientific look at ingredients and what makes quick breads rise, as well as a number of recipes for muffins, biscuits and quick breads.
This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more here.
Chapter 3: Other Bland Foods — Quick Breads
The chapter begins with a brief explanation of quick breads vs. yeast breads. The importance of mixing quickly is emphasized. Quick breads are “made light or porous” with baking powder or baking soda if sour milk is one of the ingredients. Baking powder and baking soda are quick-acting leavening agents while yeast is slow-acting.
Kinds of Flour
Flour is made from wheat. Winter wheat (grown from seeds planted in the fall) produces pastry flour, or soft-wheat flour when ground. Spring wheat, grown from seeds planted in the spring, produces hard-wheat flour or bread flour. Pastry flour is used for quick breads while bread flour is used for breads raised with yeast.
Hard and soft wheat differ in the amount of two kinds of protein as well as a difference in the percentage of starch vs. protein. There is also a difference in flour based on what part of the grain is contained in the flour. Whole wheat contains the whole grain while other types contain only certain parts. Whole wheat is more nutritious as it is richer in minerals, vitamins and cellulose (fiber). However, white flour is enriched with added vitamins and minerals to help make up the difference.
What Does Baking Powder Contain?
Baking powder includes at least these three white powders – baking soda, cornstarch and a material with acid properties. When moistened, the powder with acid properties acts on the baking soda and carbon dioxide is produced. The cornstarch acts merely to keep the other powders dry until they are used. There are different brands of baking powder which use various acid agents but they all work under the same principles.
Using Baking Powders
A bread is made light by the formation of gas in the dough. This gas is usually carbon dioxide. It is produced when baking powder is moistened and heated.
The quantity of gas produced by different types of baking powders is the same but the rate at which it is produced varies according to the type of acid it contains. Baking powders containing tartrate acts quickly and is therefore known as a quick-acting baking powder. Phosphate is another quick-acting type but not quite as fast as tartrate. A combination type of baking powder contains phosphate and sodium aluminum sulphate. This type is known as a slow-acting baking powder.
Baking powder should be stored in an air-tight tin box in order to stay dry. It should be tightly closed when not in use. Family size will determine the best size package to purchase. Larger packages are more economical as long as it will be used in a reasonable amount of time as it will deteriorate with age.
Be sure you know which type you are purchasing as the type affects the amount used.
Rule – 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons tartrate and phosphate baking powders per cup of flour. 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons combination baking powder per cup of flour.
Getting Ready to Bake Muffins
Gather all ingredients and utensils needed before starting.
Instructions included for ovens that are not heat regulated: About ten minutes after lighting the stove place a piece of white paper on the grating. In 5 minutes open the oven door. If the paper is golden brown it is hot enough to bake muffins. Now THERE’S a piece of information most people no longer know.
Plain Muffins – Recipe
A simple recipe for 12 medium size muffins along with instructions that apply to most muffin recipes.
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour may be substituted for 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
- Use less combination baking powder and more of tartrate or phosphate.
- Stir merely to dampen the dry ingredients. This prevents a tunneled texture. The batter should look lumpy.
- If the metal spoon used in filling the muffin pan is first dipped in cold water, the batter will not stick to the spoon.
- Bake a combination baking powder mixture at 300 degrees F. until it has risen. Finish baking at 400 degrees.
When to Take a Quick Bread Out of the Oven
- Is the color golden brown?
- Has the mixture pulled away from the pan?
- Gently touch the top near the center. It is done if no impression is left.
- A wire skewer, knitting needle or toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean
After removing from the oven let stand about 2 minutes. Then loosen with a spatula. If served hot, place on a napkin-covered plate. If served cold, place on a wire cake cooler until cool.
Other Kinds of Muffins and Cinnamon Bread
There is a chart for various other muffins and cinnamon bread giving quantities of various ingredients.
Some additional hints:
- Do not put meal or course flours through a sifter.
- Use the smaller quantity of combination baking powder and the greater of phosphate or tartrate.
- Heat the milk in a double boiler. Add washed fruit. Let stand until cool.
Substituting Sour Milk for Sweet
Sour milk and baking soda make a very good leavening because carbon dioxide gas is produced when the ingredients are heated.
How Much Baking Soda and Baking Powder Should Be Used with Sour Milk
Rule: Use only 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 cup of sour milk. In addition, use from 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of baking powder called for in the sweet-milk recipe.
Do not mix the baking soda with the sour milk since carbon dioxide would escape before baking the mixture.
The Chief Use of Each Ingredient of a Quick Bread
- Flour forms the basis, helps to thicken and stiffen the bread.
- Baking powder raises or leavens the mixture.
- Baking soda (with sour milk) helps to leaven the mixture.
- Salt and sugar flavor the mixture.
- Milk or other liquids moisten the ingredients, thus binding them together.
- Fat or shortening makes the bread more tender. It also flavors it.
- Eggs help to bind the ingredients together and to leaven them; they also contribute to the flavor.
Quick Loaf Breads
This section includes the following recipes…
- Date Bread
- Apricot, Raisin, or Nut Bread
- Orange Bread
Note: If you’d like me to share any of these recipes leave me a comment and I’ll do so in a future post.
Baking Powder Biscuits
The following recipes are included…
- Baking-Powder Biscuits
- Whole-Wheat Biscuits
- Pin-Wheel Biscuits
- Drop Biscuits
Batters and Doughs
A flour mixture that is thin enough to stir easily, such as a muffin mixture is called a batter. A stiffer mixture containing more flour or less liquid is called a dough.
Points to Investigate and Consider
This final section of the chapter includes 2 experiments + 9 questions.
One of the experiments is to observe what happens when baking soda is added to sour milk.
Two of the questions:
- Laura mistook baking soda for baking powder when making sweet-milk muffins. How did Laura’s muffins taste and look?
- When muffins have tunnel-like holes in them what is probably the cause?
My take-away from this section:
It’s quite handy to know what constitutes a basic muffin recipe. Once you understand the ingredients and proportions, it is easy to create many variations.