Thursday, August 19, 2010

Making Your Own Quick Bread Mix

I wanted to revisit my adventures in quick bread because I've streamlined the process even more. Now I freeze bags of bread mix and pull them out when I need bread or biscuits. If we want bread, I add water to the mix and if we want biscuits, I add milk (or a mixture of sour cream and water).
Awesome Quick Bread

Dry ingredients:

4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. my baking powder mix (half baking soda and half arrowroot powder - I leave out the cream of tartar)
1 to 2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 to 1 stick butter or up to 8 tbsp. your preferred fat

Dump all the above ingredients into the food processor and pulse until there are no large pieces of butter visible. Pour this into a gallon baggie and freeze. I make several of these while I have the food processor out. I really enjoy getting 6 loaves of bread mix ready to freeze and only having to wash the processor once. When I get ready for bread, I put my oval corningware dish into the 400F oven with 2 to 4 tbsp. butter in it to melt. I put the bread mix into a bowl and add about 1 to 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar and a palmful of organic sugar (vinegar to help it rise and sugar to counteract the flavor of the vinegar) and enough filtered water to make a good dough (I have never measured the water successfully, but it takes in the neighborhood of 2 to 3 cups). You can add minced fresh garlic, onions, shredded cheese, diced peppers, sundried tomatoes, herbs, spices, etc. to your dough or you can just plop it into the pan once the butter is melted and sprinkle shredded cheese across the top. Use a pastry brush to bring up some of the melted butter from the sides to the top (or melt additional butter and brush it onto the top) and bake. It takes about 35 - 45 minutes to bake in my deep oval corningware dish (test it with a knife inserted in the middle) and about 20 - 25 minutes in my baking sheet (flatbread). This also makes a really good pizza crust. Once it is cooled, we slice it and make open face sandwiches or cheese toast from it or just eat a piece of it with dinner. I don't think we could go back to store bread if we had to at this point. We don't have this bread every meal, but I do make it about twice a week.

This is a very flexible recipe so feel free to make it your own. I have added raisins (Newman's Own) and cinnamon to the dough with milk for the liquid to make scones. After mixing well, I poured the batter into my buttered 9 x 13 pan, brushed it with butter, then scored the top to mark biscuit size portions. After it baked, I cut on the score lines and we enjoyed square scones with honey butter. It would work quite well to roll out the dough and cut with a biscuit cutter, but I would only take the time to do that on special occasions. I can think up quite a few possible modifications including: add more liquid and some blueberries for muffins, add browned country sausage and shredded cheese for all-in-one breakfast biscuits (use milk for the liquid), add bananas or zucchini and spices and bake in a loaf pan for banana bread. Once you get a feel for how much liquid you need for each variation and figure out how well your baking powder rises, you can modify it to suit your needs with very little trouble. There really is very little difference between biscuits, cake, scones, muffins, and bread. Learn what these differences are and you will be well on your way to mastering them all.