Ever felt like eating a savoury or sweet slice of a baked treat, and then groaned at the long process it will take to be made? I have. That’s exactly what happened to me last weekend. That’s the truth, but it is not the whole truth – I had some buttermilk that I wanted to use up. Making a quick bread was my first choice, the negotiation was whether to make a sweet or savoury quick bread.
What is a Quick Bread?
A Quick Bread is a loaf or drop-style biscuit where the ingredients are quickly put together with a minimal amount of mixing so as to minimize the development of gluten; it is mixed just enough for the components to hold together. Leavening is through a combination baking soda and baking powder or one or the other.
Quick Breads are not labour-intensive or time consuming. There is no proofing, rising, kneading, blind baking or resting (except for a few minutes when it is done baking). You quickly put together the ingredients and transfer it to the oven, immediately. Making a Quick Bread is an easy way to introduce someone to baking; or it’s a good way to gain confidence in your own baking skills. The best thing about a Quick Bread, for me, is the instant gratification of making and eating it soon after it is out of the oven, while still very warm.
American-style drop biscuits, scones and biscotti are all Quick Breads. Like Banana Bread? That’s a Quick Bread. Coconut bread, and buns are Quick Breads too.
Anyway, getting back to my weekend baking. As I said, I had some homemade Buttermilk that I needed to use up. I thought of a buttermilk pound cake but resisted because that would mean getting butter and eggs to room temperature. Then I was thinking scones, but that did not appeal to me. I wanted a loaf, something I could slice and have with a hot or cold drink. I’d already taken out some golden raisins to come up to room temperature, but I was thinking that I preferred to make a savoury Quick Bread. How would I fit the raisins into this bake? I asked myself.
Cheese goes well with fruit – fresh or dried – and since I was planning on making a cheese flavoured Quick Bread, I assumed that the raisins would fit right in. For extra flavour, I added a tablespoon of garden thyme and red pepper flakes. I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure about my decision to include the raisins. While the combo may work when eaten together – raw, as a snack, baked in a bread, how would that work? But hey, you don’t know if you don’t experiment, push the boundaries.
Fifteen minutes after the loaf was tipped out of the pan, I waited all but 5 minutes before cutting in to the bread. Ummm, the aroma of cheese, mingled with thyme warmed the air. The golden raisins were like little jewels, embedded in each slice. The buttermilk-infused crumb – tender and soft. I took my first bite and nodded agreeing with the aged cheese and thyme combo and feeling the kick of the heat from the pepper flakes. I wondered how rosemary in place of thyme would work. On the second bite, as I chewed, I bit in to the raisins nestled in the crumb, tilted my head to the side and went, hmmm – interesting and not bad. Not a ringing endorsement eh? There are 2 reasons for that. First, the sweet raisins definitely work with the savoury cheese and herb flavour. When the sweet mixes with the salt, it provides a very enticing flavour, one balancing the other, like Yin and Yang. I contemplated whether adding more raisins would be better to ensure that flavour blended in each bite; however, I thought against it because this Quick Bread was really a savoury Quick Bread. The amount of fruit was just enough to make it more appealing.
The second answer is simply this – there are people, who if they are having something sweet, then it is sweet, if they are having something savoury/salt, then that is what it is. None of this fancy mixing and mingling. I say this to say – if and when you try this recipe, know the people who are going to be eating it and determine whether or not you want to put in the raisins.
Try it and let me know what you think.
Cheese & Buttermilk Quick Bread
Yield: 1 (9 x 5) loaf
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 level teaspoon fine table salt
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
• 10 – 12 ounces, sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 1/3 cup golden or dark raisins (optional)
• 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
• 2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large egg, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and
4. Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes to flour, then mix in cheese and raisins
5. Whisk together the buttermilk, oil and egg then pour into flour mixture and
mix just until it comes together, make sure there is no dry flour in the bowl
but do not over mix.
6. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly, getting it to the corners
of the pan.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until brown, turning the
pan halfway through cooking for even browning.
8. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool in tin for 15 minutes. Serve
after a 5-minute rest out of the pan or let cool to room temperature.
9. After 24 hours, wrap bread tightly in plastic and store in a zip bag in the
refrigerator, or, wrap further in aluminium foil and freeze for up to 3 months.