Quick Breads


Here at the Homegrown Revolution compound we used to make our own sourdough bread. In fact we used the exhaustive, fetishistic and ridiculously detailed instructions to be found in Nancy Silverton’s book Breads from the La Brea Bakery. Silverton did for bread what Starbucks did for coffee, before she arrived on the scene America was a Wonder bread wasteland but now, in our coast to coast boho yuppified age, you can even find decent La Brea Bakery bread in the red states. Now we’re a bit contrarian at Homegrown Revolution, so while we’re not quite ready to go back to Folgers (though that day will come), we are ready to try some down home white trash quick breads. OK, so Homegrown Revolution has changed our minds on the previous paragraph, and we’re back to making sourdough. That being said, an occasional quick bread ain’t a bad thing:

Quick breads are easy, involve no yeast or rising times, and are nearly foolproof, which is why the knuckle draggers in flyover country like them so much. Now the problem we had in our boho days with maintaining a sourdough starter is that it required daily feeding–in fact it was a bit like having a pet–a very boring slightly messy pet that leaves moist and moldy flour all over your countertop. Sourdough is best for slacker cooking geeks who plan on baking bread almost every day, a process involving multiple risings and sometimes dicey results if the ambient temperature is either too cool or too warm. By all means give a try sometime, but for the lazy we recommend quick breads, which can be whipped up quicker than riding the Xtracycle to Trader Joes.

With this in mind the Homegrown Revolution test kitchen will be experimenting with quick breads in the next few months and presenting the results. Today’s quick bread experiment, we are happy to report, was very successful–Whole Wheat Walnut Bread from the book Country Wisdom & Know How.

3/4 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed [note: SurviveLA recommends reducing or eliminating the sugar--this recipe is a bit too sweet for our tastes]
1 cup walnuts, coarsely broken
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Combine all the dry ingredients. Mix the buttermilk and the vegetable oil in a separate boil. Mix the liquid and dry ingredients together just enough to make sure they are combined. With all quick breads you should minimize the amount of mixing. Bake at 350ยบ until a knife inserted into the bread comes out dry. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the pan you use.

We invite Homegrown Revolution readers to submit their own bread recipes.

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6 Comments

  1. Sounds tasty, but not very practical to get to the store for all those fancy ingredients if the streets are full of zombies, eh? Can you grow your own wheat in LA? I recently ate some amazing bread made only from hand-ground, sprouted wheat berries. The small loaf was “baked” at very low temp (more like warmed rather than baked) I can’t find the exact recipe, but here’s a similar one suggesting solar oven baking:
    http://www.dadamo.com/forum/archive5/config.pl?read=13910
    I love your blog!

  2. Quick bread sounds very much like an early settler food here in Australia called Damper.
    It was traditionally baked on the glowing coals of a wood campfire but can be cooked in a regular oven.

    * 2 cups self-rising flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 2 teaspoons sugar
    * 3 tablespoons butter
    * 1 cup milk

    Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub in the butter until it forms fine crumbs then add the milk gradually while mixing till you have a soft dough. Knead gently on floured board. Form it into a round loaf, brush with milk and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

  3. This is the other half of SurviveLA here, and I have to say I am not thrilled with the recipe my commarade in arms decided to post as representative of the best of quick breads. For years I’ve been making a much better whole wheat-ish quick bread (which he seems to have forgotten)and this is how it goes:

    Irish Brown Soda Bread

    1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
    1 3/4 c. whole wheat flower
    3 T. toasted wheat bran
    3 T. toasted wheat germ
    2 T. old fashioned oats
    (note: change up or skip these nuggety bits as necessary–they just add texture)
    2 T packed brown sugar
    1 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    2 T. chilled unsalted butter cut into pieces
    2 cups or so of buttermilk

    Preheat oven to 425
    Butter a 9 inch loaf pan

    Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Add the butter and rub it into the flour. Stir in the buttermilk until a soft dough forms and you can scrape up all the dry bits. Don’t overwork. It is fairly wet dough. Put it in the loaf pan and bake about 40 minutes — do the toothpick test in the center to make sure. Turn it out of its pan, and let it cool on a rack.

    This is a nutty, wheaty, slightly sweet bread. The original recipe came from an ancient Bon Apetit.

  4. “knuckle draggers in flyover country”

    Oh, come on. I’ve really been enjoying reading back through your blog. You cover fascinating topics and provide great ideas and inspiration. But when it’s coupled with this kind of arrogant, self-congratulatory bigotry (and not in this post alone), it’s a real turn-off. I’d really like to believe that people with goals and skills such as yours aren’t intolerant assholes. Couldn’t you lighten up on the disdain for them? Believe it or not, there are folks in the “flyover states” (and I don’t live there) who see the writing on the wall as clearly as you do. Many of them can even bake yeasted breads.

  5. Kate,

    You’ll be happy to know that Mrs. Homegrown Evolution (who grew up in “flyover country”) gets really angry when Mr. Homegrown Evolution gets on his west coast high horse and generalizes about the “red states”. Truth is, Mr. Homegrown Evolution spent a month in Texas recently, saw the error of his ways and loved his time there–so you’ll see no more of the intolerance in more recent posts. Mea culpa.

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