Hey Ya’ll, I guess that it would have been better to put this post BEFORE my recipe for zucchini bread, but I forgot!
Muffins, biscuits, beer batter breads, waffles, pancakes, etc. all fall into the quick bread category. Quick breads unlike yeast breads (think sandwich bread) don’t require kneading and are leavened or risen by a chemical reaction using baking soda or baking powder, instead of yeast. These two leavening are not interchangeable, you cannot swap one for the other.
Baking powder is almost always “double acting”, what this means is that it reacts (puffs) twice, who would have guessed! The first reaction is when it is combined with liquid, you’ll notice the batter start to bubble, especially with pancake batters. The second reaction happens when heat is applied. Recipes made with strictly baking powder don’t have to be baked immediately.
Baking Soda, is a “single acting” leavening, baking soda puffs just once. Baking soda is activated by an acidic ingredient in the recipe. Recipes that contain buttermilk, yogurt and such will cause a larger reaction and a fluffier batter. Since baking soda is activated immediately, it needs to be baked immediately or else you risk a flat quick bread.
How are quick breads different from cakes you ask? Quick breads are usually very moist and dense and ingredient rich. They are usually sweeter than a cake and contain lots of fruit, either mashed like a banana or vegetables shredded like zucchini and carrot. Carrot cake is actually more of a quick bread than a cake, it is made using the quick bread/muffin method.
The thing that sets quick breads and cakes apart the most, is the mixing method. The biggest part of this method is the mixing procedure. With quick breads, all of the liquids are combined at once, and the combined dry ingredients are added to that, mixing just to combine, a lumpy batter is desirable in quick bread batter. With a cake you are looking for a finer, fluffier texture, which requires a much more specific mixing method, we’ll get to that in another post.
Now go make a quick bread!