Need something easy to add to an otherwise mundane menu? Or something simple to take to a potluck, cookout or another social occasion?

What you need is a good quick bread. They’re called quick breads because they’re quick to make, at least compared to yeast-risen breads, and they fall halfway between cake and bread. Whether sweet or savory, quick breads can incorporate the best of summer’s fruits and vegetables.

The quick bread family is big. Its members are baked goods made with leaveners other than yeast. The family includes muffins, biscuits, scones, tea cakes and many other siblings. Cornbread is a quick bread, and so is banana bread.

The whole friendly family requires the simplest equipment to prepare. You’ll need two bowls — one for dry ingredients, one for wet ingredients — and a wooden spoon or spatula.

Whatever kind of quick bread you’re making, take care not to over-mix the batter. When you stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, combine with only 10-12 quick strokes. The batter should still show wisps of flour and will be lumpy. Over-mixing causes quick breads to deflate after baking, and the baked bread’s interior will have tunnels or holes.

Quick breads can bake in loaf pans, square pans or heavy skillets, whatever is easiest. Baking time will vary depending on what you’re baking in. Expect a loaf to take an hour or more to bake, while a round or square pan or a skillet-baked bread may take just 30-40 minutes.

Whatever you’ll bake your quick bread in, it should go into a 350-degree oven on the center rack. Start to check if your quick bread is done about 10 minutes before you expect it to finish.

It’s normal for quick breads baked in loaf pans to have a crack in their tops. Under-baked breads will collapse; over-baked quick breads will be tougher and dryer than they should be.


Start to finish: 80 minutes, plus overnight cooling

Servings: 16

21/4 cups flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

11/4 cups milk

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup pitted, coarsely chopped sweet cherries

2/3 cup chopped almonds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch-by-5-inch-by-3-inch loaf pan with baking spray or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg, milk, cooking oil and almond extract until well-combined.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir until just moistened. Fold in the cherries and chopped almonds. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in loaf pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on the wire rack. Wrap tightly in foil, and refrigerate overnight before slicing.

Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 15 g sugar, 4 g protein, 180 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.


Start to finish: 65 minutes, plus cooling time

Servings: 16

6 slices bacon

21/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 large eggs

11/2 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons bacon drippings

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch-by-5-inch-by-3-inch loaf pan with baking spray or parchment paper.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove the bacon, and drain it on paper towels. Reserve the bacon drippings. When the bacon is cooled, crumble or chop it coarsely.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and bacon drippings. If you don’t have 6 tablespoons of drippings, use a neutral cooking oil for the rest of the 6 tablespoons.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spoon or a rubber spatula to stir together just until combined, about 1 minute. Fold in the bacon and cheese.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs, 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan, 10 minutes, then tip the loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition information per serving: 177 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 6 g protein, 329 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.


Start to finish: 55 minutes, plus cooling time

Servings: 8-10

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan

2 large meaty tomatoes, such as Roma

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk (see note)

1 large zucchini (about 10 ounces), to yield about 2 cups grated

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon chile powder

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup medium-grind cornmeal

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; heat to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan.

Dice the tomatoes. Salt generously, and place in a sieve. Let drain, 15-20 minutes.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs and buttermilk.

Grate the zucchini. Add to bowl with butter mixture; stir until well-blended. Stir in diced tomatoes.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a separate bowl. Whisk in the chile powder and cornmeal. Add zucchini mixture; fold just to blend. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake bread until golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cool in pan, 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk in the house, make a substitute for this recipe by stirring 11/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice into 1/2 cup whole milk. Let stand for 5 minutes at room temperature, and stir before using.

Nutrition information per serving (for 10 servings): 238 calories, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 63 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 6 g protein, 366 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

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