Muffins and Quick Breads
Quick breads and muffins are mixed and baked in a much shorter time than is required to mix and ferment yeast breads. Yeast breads are leavened by the carbon dioxide produced by yeast from glucose. This is a time consuming process which can take many hours. Quick breads and muffins use baking powder or baking soda to leaven. This is accomplished while they bake. Thus quick breads and muffins come by their name quite honestly!
The key ingredients to making quick breads and muffins are flour, eggs, liquid, leavening agents, fat and sugar. The flour and eggs provide the structure to the product. Minimal mixing should be done to prevent the over-development of the gluten in the flour. When this occurs, the end product will have tunnels or peaks (those funny shaped muffins with the large air pockets inside). Mixing should be accomplished by using cutting and folding strokes. The liquid is often in very small amounts. It is used only to slightly moisten the dry ingredients and to dissolve the leavening agent. Too much liquid causes the gluten in the flour to over hydrate and the bread will be toughened. The leavening agents most often used are, baking soda and/or baking powder. Some bread will only use steam in tortillas or matzos. The final ingredients include fat and sugar which provide the tenderizing gents. Often unsweetened applesauce can be used as a replacement for some of the fat. This helps to reduce the fat content and provide a more healthful muffin or quick bread. The sugar is always combined with the other dry ingredients because it helps separate the flour granules. This makes the flour granules mix more readily with the liquids. When all the ingredients have been mixed the batter should appear lumpy, not smooth. There should be no pockets of un-moistened dry ingredients.
Most muffins and quick breads are baked as soon as they are mixed. Muffin tins can be lightly greased or paper muffin lines can be used. Fill the muffins with minimal additional mixing. Place in a preheated oven to bake. After baking is accomplished, the muffins should be left in the pan for a few minutes to allow the steam to soften the crust for easy removal.
The final product will have a thin brown crust, slightly rounded t p with a pebbled appearance. The interior should be free of tunnels and tender with even grain. And most of all taste good!