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Freshly Baked Bread In A Jiffy

Nothing warms up a home like the smell of freshly baked bread.

But it can take quite awhile and quite a bit of effort to make.

Enter cookbook author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie, at the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma, during the "Five Minute Cooking School" on The Early Show Thursday.

She said the answer is "quick breads."

Because they contain no yeast, they're fast and easy to prepare, smell delicious in the oven, and can be frozen and reheated. They can be sweet or savory, made in an infinite variety of flavors, and baked in various shapes.

Rather than yeast, quick breads are typically leavened with baking powder or sodium bicarbonate. Quick breads are quick because you don't have to wait for the dough or batter to rise, as you do with yeast breads.

Examples of quick breads include pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, muffins, and waffles.

The basic technique for making all quick breads is to combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, combine the wet ingredients in another bowl, then quickly combine the two. The key is to stir just until the ingredients are combined; overbeating leads to tough bread and tunneling. Also, once the batter is prepared, bake it right away, since the baking powder will start to react with wet ingredients once it's mixed.

Ritchie uses variations of the basic formula to jazz up quick breads.

RECIPES

Sour Cream-Maple Bread

This bread boasts subtle flavors of butter and sour cream with discreet overtones of maple syrup. A handheld mixer can be used instead of a whisk to blend the butter and syrup, but further mixing is easily done by hand.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at
room temperature
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 1-lb. loaf pan.

In a small bowl, stir and toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl, using a whisk, beat the butter until smooth, then slowly add the maple syrup, whisking constantly. Whisk in the sour cream and egg. Stir in the pecans. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto the rack and let cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series,Muffins & Quick Breads,by John Phillip Carroll (Time-Life Books, 1993).

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Go to page two for more recipes.

Chipotle Corn Bread with Cheddar Cheese and Green Onions

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs. chopped chipotle peppers
1/3 cup sliced green onion tops
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 425ºF. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir to mix. Make a well in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg and milk and whisk until just blended, about 10 seconds. Add the butter, chipotle peppers, green onions and cheddar cheese and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients. Fold gently until the batter is just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

Serves 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Ginger-Rhubarb Muffins

Be sure to trim the leaves off the rhubarb as they are toxic; use only the stalks.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. finely chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease the cups of a standard muffin pan or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and crystallized ginger. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, sour cream, oil and egg. Stir in the rhubarb. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan. Makes 12 muffins.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

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