There are a few common problems that people encounter when baking quick breads. Luckily, most of these problems are completely avoidable once you understand what causes them:
Bread sticks to pan. There are a few reasons why the bread may stick to the pan. Unless you're using high-quality nonstick metal or silicone baking pans, you should always grease the pans before you pour in the batter. The best thing to use for greasing the pan is shortening, because its melting point is higher than any other kind of fat, and therefore maintains a "shield" between the pan and the batter while the bread is baking. If you use a liquid form of fat such as vegetable oil, it will simply absorb into the batter.
People also experience sticking problems when they use a bread recipe that is especially low in fat. Usually, the fat in the bread itself helps to prevent sticking, and when there isn't very much fat, the bread is more likely to become stuck to the pan. The best solution to this problem is to use a more generous amount of shortening to grease the pan, or buy some really good nonstick pans. You can also prevent sticking by removing the bread from the pan within a few minutes of taking it out of the oven.
There are big holes and 'tunnels' in the bread, and/or the bread is tough. These problems are usually caused by overmixing.
There's a big crack down the middle of the quick bread loaf. The crack on top happens when top of the loaf 'sets' in the heat of the oven before the bread is finished rising. It's normal for there to be a crack down the middle of most quick bread loaves. Don't worry about it.
The bread looks done on the outside but it's still raw in the middle. This is one of the most common quick bread problems, and it can be caused by a few different factors. The oven temperature could be too high. Most ovens are not accurate: they usually vary anywhere from 25 to 75 degrees between the number you see on the dial and the actual temperature of the oven. The best way to get an accurate temperature us to use an oven thermometer than is made to hang from the oven rack.
If the outside of the bread is done before the middle, try lowering the oven temperature and/or putting a loose tent of foil over the top of the bread so it won't burn before the middle has time to catch up. Another cause of the 'raw center' problem is using a different size pan that the recipe calls for. One of the nice things about quick breads is that you can use the same batter to make muffins, mini loaves, jumbo loaves, or just about any shape at all. But, each size requires slightly different baking times, and sometimes, different baking temperatures, too. The larger and thicker the loaf, the longer it's going to take to bake. If you're using a different size pan than your recipe calls for, adjust the baking time accordingly and check the bread often.
Tips for Baking Quick Bread Loaves
Who doesn't let a couple of bananas get a little ripe or have half a bag of cranberries just waiting in the freezer? Turning those "leftovers" into fragrant quick bread loaves is the easiest and most soul-soothing solution we can suggest.
- Choose a pan that's the right size. So many choices! For loaves with a gently rounded top and no "lipping" at the edges, grease only the bottoms of the loaf pans.
- Measure with care. If you don't, a coarse or crumbly texture and dryness can be the result.
- Chop or shred fruits, vegetables or nuts before you start making the batter. If you start the batter and then stop to chop, the batter may get too stiff.
- Hold back on using up extra amounts of fruits or vegetables; the extras can make a loaf heavy and hard to bake all the way through.
- It's easy to mix quick breads by hand. Most recipes have no need for an electric mixer.
- Cool quick breads completely before slicing; cutting while warm is one of the chief reasons for crumbling. Even better, store them tightly covered for 24 hours for easier cutting.
- Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, using a light sawing motion. After cooling, wrap loaves tightly and store them in the fridge for up to a week or freeze up to 3 months.
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