Quick breads

Biscuits, scones, muffins and even pancakes fall into the quick bread category, and we often find the word "tea" in the title -- think banana tea bread. (Tribune file)

Quick breads, the old-fashioned, fast-rising breads that get their leavening by baking powder or soda are a baker's delight -- a busy cook's dream.

Biscuits, scones, muffins and even pancakes fall into the quick bread category, and we often find the word "tea" in the title -- think banana tea bread. And nuts often are an addition. Date and nut bread is a classic.

Tradition aside, you could choose zucchini bread, a quick loaf dense with grated zucchini and chopped pistachios. Or try lemon bread, a light loaf reminiscent of an old-fashioned pound cake. When it's glazed with a sweet-tart lemon syrup, it's a colorful way to brighten up a party. To prevent crumbling, and for easier slicing, make these breads a day ahead.

Quick bread tips

The key to making quick breads is using a light hand. Don't overmix the batter.

"While in most yeast breads you want to develop gluten in order to get a tough crust and chewy crumb, in quick breads you want to retard its development to keep the bread nice and light," writes Mark Bittman in "How to Cook Everything."

When you see no more dry bits of flour, the mixing is done; don't worry about remaining lumps, he suggests. Here are more tips:

Quick bread recipes are easy to double; then just freeze the extra loaf for later. It will keep, tightly wrapped in foil or food storage bags for up to 3 months.

Fresh fruit such as berries should be lightly coated with flour before they are folded into the batter. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf.

The breads can be baked in a square baking pan instead of a loaf pan, if you like. Or try them in an oven-safe cast-iron skillet.

Zucchini bread

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon each: baking soda, cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup each: firmly packed brown sugar, granulated sugar, canola oil
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pistachios


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugars and oil in a separate large bowl. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the zucchini and nuts.

2. Transfer batter to a buttered and floured 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; smooth the top. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert on to a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing (or wrap in foil and store at room temperature).

Nutrition information: Per serving: 247 calories, 47% of calories from fat, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 224 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Glazed lemon bread

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Cool: 2 hours
Makes: 1 loaf


1 1/4 cups sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat 1 cup of the sugar and the butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until blended. Add the egg yolks, one at a time; beat until smooth. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt, alternating with the milk. Stir in the nuts and 1 tablespoon of the lemon peel. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into the batter.

2. Transfer the batter to a buttered, floured 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; smooth the top. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.

3. Just before the end of the baking time, combine remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon of the lemon peel and the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Glaze hot bread with lemon syrup. Cool in pan on rack 30 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pan; cool on the rack 2-3 hours before slicing (or wrap in foil and store at room temperature).

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 237 calories, 39% of calories from fat, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 57 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 147 mg sodium, 1 g fiber