Any muffin batter can be baked in a loaf pan or other deep baking pan to make quick bread just as any quick bread batter can be baked in a muffin tin.
But, because of the longer baking time a quick bread loaf requires, its pan demands a different preparation to ensure that the bread does not stick or scorch. The pan is thoroughly greased like the individual cups of a muffin tin, using either butter or vegetable shortening, and then lightly coated with flour.
Baking and testing for doneness proceeds in the same way as shown for muffins on the previous page. Once a loaf of quick bread is done, however, it is usually unmolded from its pan to cool on a wire rack so that its crust remains firm and crisp.
1. Greasing and flouring.
First, preheat the oven to the temperature called for in the recipe. To prevent a quick bread from sticking, prepare the loaf pan by lightly but thoroughly coating the interior with softened butter or shortening, using a paper towel, if you like, to keep your fingers clean. Then add a small scope of all-purpose (plain) flour and tilt and shake the pan to leave a light, even coating of flour on the butter. Tip the pan to shake out the excess flour.
2. Spreading the batter
Prepare the batter and transfer it to the pan. Lightly tap the pan on a work surface to eliminate any air pockets. Using a rubber spatula, smooth the batter so the loaf rises and browns evenly during baking. Place the pan in the preheated oven.
3. Unmolding and cooing.
When the loaf is well risen and golden, insert a thin wooden skewer into its center to test for doneness. When the skewer comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold the loaf; if it sticks, run a narrow metal spatula adorn the sides. Transfer the loaf right side up to a wire rack to cool.
4. Fine grating fresh flavors
Citrus zests and fresh ginger are among the most vivid flavorings for muffins and quick bread. A zester produces fine shreds; a hand-held grater, smaller particles. Any sturdy grater will handle fresh ginger, although a ginger grater tackles the fibrous flesh best.
5. Finely shredding zest.
To produce fine shreds of citrus zest, hold the fruit securely in one hand and, with the other, draw the cutting holes of special citrus zester across the surface of the fruit.
6. Finely grating zest.
For finely grated citrus zest, use on hand to steady a fine-holed, sturdy grater on a nonslip work surface. On the other hand, lightly but firmly grate the citrus fruit, turning it frequently to avoid grating any bitter white pith.
7. Grating fresh ginger.
Use a special ginger grater or the medium-sized grating surface of a hand-held grater. Using a small, sharp knife, trim one end of the ginger and peel off some of the papery brown skin before grating.
8. Adding something extra
Muffins and quick bread are easily enhanced with a few simple flourishes.
A sweet curable topping (see recipe on page 24) adds an attractive, crinkly crust. You could also add such toppings as sugar crystals or cinnamon sugar (see pages 26 and 61).
Still, other treats may be hidden inside muffins, such as the jam in the strawberry-orange muffins on page 30.
Chopped chocolate, cream cheese, or chunks of ripe summer fruit are other good choices.
9. Hiding a dab of jam.
Fill prepared muffin cups less than half full with batter. Place a dad of jam in the center of each cup. Then add more batter to fill cups two-thirds full; canceling jam.
Sugar syrup saturates a quick bread with flavor and texture. Besides the lemon syrup on page 58, you could use syrups flavored with other juices or sweet spices.
10. Adding a crumble topping.
To make the curable topping, use your fingertips to combine flour, sugar, salt, sweet spices, and shortening, producing a mixture resembling bread crumbs. After filling muffin cups with batter, sprinkle a scant tablespoon of topping over each cup.
11. Drizzling with syrup.
Prepare simple sugar syrup in this case, flavored with fresh lemon juice. Poke holes all over the bread’s surface and drizzle the syrup over it. Let cool for 15 minutes before unmolding.
12. Basic Glaze
A thin coating of glaze adds flair to muffins and quick bread. Orange is sweet and bright; lemon glaze contributes a pleasant tartness. Either one would be good on any of the sweet, fruity bread and muffing in this book.
For the orange Glaze:
- 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) confectioners (icing) sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, or more if needed
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- Pinch of salt
For the Lemon Glaze:
- 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) confectioners (icing ) sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more if needed
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
13. Pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients for either glaze in a small bowl and whisk briskly until smooth and well blended. If the glaze is too stiff, beat in a few drops more juice. Brush or spoon over bread and muffins while they are still warm.
Makes about ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml), enough for 12 muffins or 1 loaf of bread.
Some Other Cooking Tips