We’ve all been there. You thumb through several recipes that call for slightly different ingredients to make the same thing. I have at least 50 different quick bread recipes. Each time I try a new recipe I record what I like so that I can tweak the next batch. I’ll admit I never really studied the foundation of a quick bread. It’s basic ratio was a mystery to me until a few months ago when I received a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.
I perused it upon receiving it but did not really dive into it until I recently spotted a group of bloggers talking about a rally to encourage bloggers, bakers and cooks alike to put the measuring cups aside and bake by weight. The idea behind weighing your ingredients is to ensure that you get precise measurements. Different flours have different weights especially in gluten-free baking where there are a variety of flours. Measuring your ingredients by weight allows you to keep the ingredients in proportion with the ratio. Last month the bloggers participating in the rally tackled pancakes. This month we were asked to create a quick bread recipe based off of Ruhlman’s ratio.
The ratio is incredibly simple:
2 parts flour
2 parts liquid
1 part egg
1 part fat
Now if you just use the basic ingredients you will have a pretty basic and rather bland bread. The idea is to use the ratio as a basis for your recipe. You might want to add some baking powder, sugar or salt. If you are like me you will want to break out some of your apple butter from last year’s canning extravaganza to add to the recipe. Fruit butter always pairs wonderfully with bread and this recipe is no exception.
I worked with ounces. My basic ratio was as follows:
2 parts flour: 4 ounces gluten-free flour blend
2 parts liquid: 4 ounces buttermilk
1 part egg: 1 large egg = 2 ounces
1 part fat: 2 ounces canola oil
The basic ratio is not big enough for a loaf so I doubled the ratio and added in some unique ingredients. As far as the measurements go, you don’t need to run to the store and buy a fancy scale. There are a number of scales out there that you can get for less than $30.00. Ideally you want a scale that can measure food weighing up to 5 pounds, has a zeroing or tare button, and can measure in metric and imperial weights. Again, there is no need to get fancy here. Just make sure your scale has the basics to get started.
The flavors are very subtle. I enrolled my usual taste testers in the office to see if they could identify all of the ingredients. Only one person was able to name the secret ingredient: garlic powder. No one was able to identify the super double secret ingredient: ground flaxseed. I gave them the first batch assuming that it would need some tweaking. Other than one person who preferred it without garlic the results were overwhelmingly unanimous that I did not have to change a single thing. I made a second batch without the garlic and I have to admit that the garlic really transforms it into something special.
The one thing that everyone agreed on is that they were not quite sure what time of day it would be appropriate to serve this bread. We all decided that the only solution to this problem was to agree that it was suitable for any time of day. Again, as with most of my quick bread recipes, this bread tastes wonderful lightly toasted with a little dollop of butter. Several of us enjoyed a little nibble in the morning and in the afternoon right around the dreaded 3:00 crash.
For a list of all the other fabulous recipes for muffins and quick breads that the Gluten-free Ratio Rally bloggers came up with this month, visit Sylvana’s Kitchen.
Cheesy Apple Butter Bread
8 ounces gluten free flour blend*
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 ounces brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 large eggs
4 ounces canola oil
4 ounces apple butter
8 ounces buttermilk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, garlic powder and flaxseed.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together eggs, oil, apple butter and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir gently with a wooden spoon until just blended. Fold in cheese and transfer batter to a 9×5 inch pan.
Bake for 60-75 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Allow the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Serving: 1 loaf
*I make my own gluten-free flour blend. The basic recipe is 11 ounces brown rice flour, 3.75 ounces potato starch and 1.40 ounces tapioca flour. Combine the ingredients together and then measure out 8 ounces from the combined ingredients. Making my own blend has made a significant difference in my recipes.