Yeast isn't the only way to make bread rise. You can also make loaves of leavened bread in other ways that are not only easier but quicker too.
Making quick bread is different than making yeast bread in that you don't have to knead the dough and you don't have to wait around for it to rise. Unlike yeast bread that can take several hours to prepare from start to serving time, quick bread can be ready to eat in just about an hour from the time you start mixing the ingredients.
More like making cake batter than bread dough, with a quick bread recipe you just combine all the ingredients in a bowl, then pour them into greased loaf pans and bake.
Basic Quick Bread
The essential ingredients in almost all quick breads are the same: flour, eggs, some sort of fat (butter, oil, shortening, etc.), and water or milk. And then, of course, there's that one final ingredient that distinguishes quick bread from, say, flat bread: the leavening agent.
In order for bread to rise, it needs some sort of leavening agent. If you're not going to use yeast, you still have to use something. One of the most common of these alternative leavening agents is baking powder — common in many baking recipes from pancakes to birthday cakes. It's used for the same reason — to produce carbon dioxide, which makes the baked good light and fluffy. To activate, baking powder needs only be combined with liquid, for which the water or milk in a typical bread recipe will handily suffice.
Another common leavening agent in quick bread recipes is baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate. But in order for baking soda to effectively leaven bread, it needs to be mixed with some sort of acid. This acid can be in the form of cream of tartar, cultured buttermilk or lemon juice.
Beyond Basic Quick Bread
Although loaf bread may be what most people picture when they think of quick bread, there are other types of bread (or bread-like baked goods) that fall under the quick bread category as well. These include corn bread, beer batter bread, soda bread, banana bread, zucchini bread, lemon bread, pumpkin bread and others. Some chefs will even include baked goods like scones, muffins and biscuits in their definition of quick breads.
Some of these "alternative" quick breads are made with specific leavening alternatives, such as cream puffs, which use steam to make them puff out, and waffles, which are often made with beaten egg whites to give them height.
Whatever variety you like, whatever leavening alternative to yeast that you use, making quick bread is a remarkably easy way to be enjoying a light, fluffy, hearty and flavorful bread in no time at all.
Quick Bread Recipes
If you're new to the world of quick bread recipes (or even if you aren't), here are a few to start you out:
What kind of quick bread do you make most often?