Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Breads: Hold the Yeast

Nothing wrong with yeast, it is just that baking powder is quicker and that is why breads leavened with baking powder are called "quick" breads. Now, imagine that!

Quick breads, particularly biscuits, were to the old South BAC (before air conditioning) what sliced white bread is to us today. Omi-present biscuits were served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea time and cocktail time. Fresh and hot every single time they hit the table.

They even invented a product to make the making of biscuits even quicker and even easier, especially after the black cooks were liberated and a lot of people who had biscuits in their heritage but not in their blood, suddenly found themselves with white rocks coming from the very same ovens that used to pop out light, fluffy, airy biscuits that melted in your mouth. The product is known as self-rising flour. Where the cooks who made biscuits five times a day, year after year, knew how much baking powder and salt to pinch into the flour, without measuring, the rest of the population apparently didn't.

Self-rising flour, which contains salt and a leavening agent, is still to be wherever people with a southern accent are living and it does make terrific biscuits. If you don't find it hanging around the back of some shelf in your market, just do your own measuring and you'll do just fine.

Aside from not getting the proportions of ingredients just right in quick breads, the other thing to remember, if you want your biscuits or muffins to be light and tender, is don't over-mix the muffin batter or over-knead the biscuit dough. Muffin batter should be lumpy and biscuit dough should be kneaded no more than eight gentle times. I guess they are girlee breads, the gentle you are with them, the better they like you.

Biscuits: Light In Calories & Light In The Mouth

Light mayonnaise is the only fat in these low-calorie, low fat breads.

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise, light works just fine
1/2 cup + 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, skim can be used

Preheat oven to 450 F. Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together the mayonnaise and 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the mixture forms a cohesive mass. The dough should feel soft and satiny; if it feels dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk and stir. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 8 times. Pat into a rectangle, then cut into 12 squares. Dough should double when baked. Or, cut with a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass dipped in flour. Place biscuits, just touching, on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes, until puffy and light brown. Makes 12 biscuits.

Drop Biscuits

One, two, three and you've got them made.

1 cup milk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cups self-rising flour

Preheat oven to 400 F, spray a round layer cake pan with non-stick spray. Combine milk and mayonnaise so that no lumps remain. Stir in flour with a fork, just until blended. Drop by spoonfuls into prepared pan with biscuits touching. Bake about 20 minutes, until browned. Makes 12 biscuits.

Bacon Corn Muffins

Serve for breakfast, brunch or lunch--great with salad or with eggs. The recipe is simple but if you are in a rush, use a cornbread mix adding scallions and cooked bacon. Not the same but almost as good.

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 large egg
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup chopped scallions
8 bacon slices (1/2 lb) cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 F; grease 12 muffin cups. Whisk together milk, egg and butter. In another bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients; stir until just combined (do NOT overmix; mixture will be lumpy). Spoon into muffin pans and bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean; about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes. Makes 12.

Cheddar Cheese Scones

We usually think of scones as a sweet treat for breakfast or coffee time. These scones, topped with sesame seeds are a beautiful change for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The cheese gives them an interesting color and texture, as well as taste.

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup, packed, coarsely shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup, or more, chilled whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Sesame seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 425 F. Sprinkle large rimmed baking sheet with flour. Whisk flour, sugar and baking powder together in large bowl. Stir in chives and cheese. Whisk 3/4 cup milk, 1 egg, oil, and mustard in small bowl. Gradually add the milk mixture to dry ingredients, tossing with fork until moist clumps form and adding more milk by tablespoonfuls if dough is dry. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead just until dough comes together. Pat out dough to 1-inch thick round. Cut with round cutter or pat into 2 rounds and cut into pie-shaped wedges. Transfer to sheet. Whisk remaining egg and brush over scones. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 14 minutes. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 14.

Breads are not boring!


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