Adventures in Baking Land – Quick Breads

What is a quick bread? In this class we learned about leavening. Chemical leavening is a product that helps breads to rise by releasing gases. Today we used baking powder and baking soda to do just that. The recipes were for tea biscuits and bran muffins. A very bold undertaking for the neophyte baker.

In the case of quick breads the process, in addtion to the baking powder and soda, uses steam instead of yeast to assist the rising

I could not find bran, whole milk powder or currents at the supermarket, so I ordered them from Amazon. They were delivered the next day. Instead of currents for the tea biscuits I used dried cranberries which I had in the pantry.

I figured these recipes should be easy. The way the course is structured is, each week, we work toward more complex baking. I decided to do the tea biscuits first. Tea biscuits are small, round, and lightly browned. You should be able to see the flaky layers. They can be served with butter and jam or have gravy poured over them

I followed the directions in the video and the additional information from Chef Mia. My dough did not look or behave the way it was in the video. I made doubly sure that the butter was pea size. I reduced the recipe to ¼ because I didn’t know if I would like them. Maybe the reduction caused the difference.

This is also where I truly came to experience the wonderous sensation of dough stuck on my fingers. I could not get it off, scraping away as I did.

I soaked the cranberries in hot water to swell them in preparation for the mixture. Maybe the extra liquid in the cranberries ruined the dough. When I poured the dough from the bowl to the counter, my fingers were covered in sticky dough. It stuck to the counter and could not press it out as more dough got on my fingers. I started putting more and more dusting flour on it even though it said in the video not to use too much flour. Chef Mia felt my dough was rolled too thin.

I finally got it to the point where I could begin to move it without it getting on my fingers. I started to roll it out. When I folded it there was a sticky surface so more flour. Each time I folded I had to deal with a sticky surface. The folding is crucial because that is what creates the flaky layers – and the height.

Finally got it to the point where I could roll it out to begin cutting the circles. Had difficulty peeling away the circle dough because it was stuck to the counter.

The finished biscuit looked nothing like the one in the video. Taste was okay, not dry. The bottoms were slightly burnt. I had it in the oven for 15 minutes but was checking the top browning for doneness

Glad I only did a 1/4 batch.

The muffins were a different story. Finally, mine looked like the ones in the video. There is hope for me yet. I didn’t mix it much and the batter looked the same.

It poured into the cups just like the video. I had bought an ice cream scoop specifically to do this. After baking I had the rounded tops. And the centre was the same as she showed. I halved the recipe as I didn’t need all those muffins. Good fibre source but there is only so much daily fibre on needs.

They were good. I used raisin and pecans. Had them for breakfast, spread with Nutella. The additions were evenly spaced and there was no tunneling in the muffin.

The success of the muffins gave me a boost in confidence. I know for most bakers this would be a no brainer but for me, it was preparation for the next adventure – custards.

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