For those of you who don’t know what a quick bread is, well, it’s just that – a quick bread! As opposed to slow bread, you could call it, or a yeasted bread, which can take hours to prepare and bake.
A quick bread contains no yeast. Baking powder is the leavening that lightens the bread as it bakes. Without leavening of any sort, breads would come out of the oven as heavy, dense bricks.
I learned that the hard way as a young girl. I went through a baking spurt where on Sundays I would get up and make recipes from a cookbook written for youngsters by Betty Crocker, such things as cinnamon rolls and coffee cakes. Once I wanted to make a certain breakfast bread that required yeast and something called “rising time,” and being that I didn’t have that kind of time, I just ignored that part of the recipe.
Knowing that I had made something special, because I had a feeling that yeast was special, and being quite proud of myself, when my mother came down to the kitchen, I asked her to remove the bread from the oven. As she proceeded to lift it from the oven rack, she almost dropped it because it weighed a ton. And, of course, it was inedible. The rising process for yeasted breads is mandatory. Lesson learned at age 9.
But back to quick breads. Besides being quick, they are extremely easy. And you can really mix up the ingredients much like you can pancakes. You just have to respect the wet ingredients to dry ingredients ratio. Think about it. A cookie dough is different from a cake batter for a reason. You can’t make a pancake with a stiff dough, and just the same you can’t bake a quick bread from a drippy batter.
There are familiar quick breads that just contain honey and molasses, but also banana and pumpkin breads as well. These are all sweet quick breads. But I really like making savory ones.
Today I decided to make a quick bread using some leftover raclette cheese that I had frozen after Christmas, and a few other goodies I gathered together. If you decide to make this bread, you can completely change up the ingredients including the cheese, to make this bread your own. See what you think.
Raclette Quick Bread
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes from a package
4 ounces unsalted butter
6 ounces pancetta
16 ounces milk
8 ounces ricotta
3 tablespoons leftover pancetta grease
1/2 cup, approximately, fresh, chopped herbs*
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 ounces grated raclette or your cheese of choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop up the dried tomatoes and place them in a small bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and microwave it until it is melted. Let the tomatoes hydrate in the butter while you continue with the recipe.
Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat. A little browning is good; don’t allow any burning. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, but save the grease in the skillet.
To a large mixing bowl, add the milk, eggs, ricotta, pancetta grease, the herbs, and salt. Whisk this mixture until smooth.
Using a spoon, gradually add the flour and baking powder and stir until the flour is almost combine with the wet ingredients. The batter will be thick because of the ricotta cheese, so don’t think you’ve done something wrong. At that time, add the grated cheese and fold the batter until the flour and cheese is incorporated; do not over stir.
Divide the batter in between two greased 8 x 4″ loaf pans.
I actually used a handful of sliced Kalamata olives for half of this batter, because my husband doesn’t like them, but I do. The addition of the olives doesn’t affect the dry to wet ingredient ratio, so I just simply folded them in.
Place the pans in the oven for 45 minutes. The bread with the olives is in the foreground.
To make sure they are cooked through, use a cake tester or long toothpick to check them. No doughy substance should be sticking to the tester. If there is, the breads need to be cooked for maybe five minutes longer. An alternative is to lower your oven to 325 degrees to help the breads cook in the middle.
There should be a little rise along the middle of the bread, and it should also be firm to the touch.
Let the breads rest in the pans for about 30 minutes, and then remove them to cool completely.
Serve these breads as part of a buffet, or for an hors d’oeuvres platter. They’re best warm or at room temperature.
* I used parsley, rosemary, and oregano straight from the garden. But you can use one herb or many, depending on your taste.
note: To change up the ingredients, think about adding nuts, for example, or even chopped jalapenos! This bread would also be good with a smoked cheese, cilantro, and adobo seasoning! Get creative!