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Cinnamon Swirl Tea Bread

Do you love to say, “Good Morning” to overnight holiday guests with a delicious slice of chocolate chip banana bread or marble pound cake?  Are you planning to give quick breads as gifts to loved ones this year?  Whether you grew up with a family tradition of quick bread baking or you are baking quick bread for the first time this year, follow these 10 tips for quick bread success!

 1. Have it your way.  Quick breads are very versatile.  If your recipe calls for nuts or dried fruits, put in whatever type of nut or dried fruit you like.  Add in your favorite baking chips or tailor the spices to your taste.  For a healthier quick bread, swap fruit puree for the oil in your recipe.  Use mashed banana,   unsweetened applesauce, fruit baby food, or canned pumpkin.  You can also cut out about ? of the sugar in your recipe and still have a delicious outcome.  

2.  Rehydrate what has been dehydrated.  Soaking the dried fruit your recipe calls for before adding it to your batter will keep your bread moist and can add extra flavor.  Place the fruit in a heatproof bowl and cover it with boiling water or hot apple or orange juice.  Allow it to set for 15-20 minutes, then drain.  Pat dry and add it to the completed batter.  

3.  Loaf vs. Muffin.  You can bake your favorite quick bread recipe in whatever size you want.  In general, one recipe of quick bread will make 1 9x5-inch loaf, 2 5 ½x3-inch loaves, 6 jumbo muffins, or 12 muffins.  Any quick bread recipe can be used to make muffins and any muffin recipe can be turned into a quick bread.  The biggest hurdle is figuring out appropriate baking times.  A 9x5-inch loaf of quick bread usually bakes for  50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.  Standard size muffins usually bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.  When adapting a recipe for the first time, set your timer for the minimum amount and watch your baked goods carefully to make sure they do not overcook.

4.  Prepare Pans Properly.  Whatever size of quick bread you decide to make, prepare the pan it will be baked in according to your recipe.  Nonstick spray works well to grease your pan.  Some nonstick sprays now include flour so that you can skip the step of flouring the pan.  If your bread tends to stick to the pan, line your loaf pan with parchment paper before greasing and flouring it.   

5.  The Muffin Mixing Method.  Combine all of your dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Combine all of your wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.  Pour your wet ingredients into the well and mix by hand.  Stir your bread batter until it just combined, then stop and walk away!

6.  No sinking allowed.  If you notice that your add-ins (fruits, baking chips, or nuts) are sinking to the bottom of your quick bread, coat them with 1-2 Tbsp of flour before adding them to your batter.  Do not sprinkle nuts or fruits on top of your batter.  They will probably burn before your bread is fully cooked. 

 7.  Let it rest.  Once you are finished mixing your batter, cover it with a towel and let it set for 10-15 minutes.  You might not always have time for this step, but if you do, your bread will have the perfect crumb inside and the perfect crust outside.  

8.  Fill pans just right.  Try to fill pans no more than ? full.  This gives your quick bread room to rise.  If you are making muffins, but do not use all of the cups, fill empty cups ½ full of water.  When the cups are left empty in the oven, the muffins are more likely to burn. 

9.  It’s supposed to look that way.  Don’t worry if you end up with a large crack down the center of your bread.  That is the way quick bread bakes.  To be sure that your quick bread is cooked completely test it in the center with a skewer or toothpick.  If the bread is done, the tester should come out clean or with fully baked crumbs on it.  Use a toothpick or skewer to test for doneness with muffins as well.  

10.  Give it a break.  For the best flavor and texture, let your quick bread set overnight before devouring it.  Once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.  Hide it carefully from loved ones who have smelled it baking.  Unwrap, slice, and enjoy it the next day! 

For quick bread inspiration and ideas, try these recipes:

Banana Nut Bread
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Cranberry Orange Bread
 Zucchini Bread
Lemon Pound Cake
Marble Pound Cake
Apricot Bread
Applesauce Bread
Apple Raisin Bread
Oatmeal Applesauce Bread
Orange Pecan Bread
Almond Bread
Sweet Potato Bread
Maple Nut Bread
Eggnog Bread
Fig Bread
Sweet Cinnamon Bread
Cranberry Walnut Bread
Christmas Bread
Walnut Bread
Brown Bread
 
Sources:
http://allrecipes.com/howto/baking-quick-breads/
http://www.quakeroats.com/cooking-and-recipes/content/baking-101/quick-breads/baking-tips-for-breads.aspx 
http://baking.about.com/od/quickandsweetbreads/a/bakingtips.htm

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