Quick! Gimme a flavor! Daring bakers challenge

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profile.

First off let me start by clearing up something. When I first started blogging I was really surprised when everyone was calling sweet baked cakes bread! Here all the recipes I am sharing today and others I shared before like this one and this one and oh this one too are all classified as cake! It was very confusing at first to see a recipe baked in a loaf pan,being called bread and then the same recipe baked in a cake pan is called cake! To make things even more confusing, bake it in a loaf pan and it’s breakfast and good for you. Bake it in a cake pan and it is dessert and it is the enemy lol. Slowly it became evident that it is really a labelling issue, some people call it bread, others call it cake. Kind of like the scone biscuit debate. Whatever you decide to call them, quick breads (a.k.a. cakes) are a wonderful companion for the afternoon tea, the sweet ending to a meal or the perfect way to start your day.

I am sharing 2 recipes for quick bread today, one I found at Mj’s Kitchen and just had to try it (when the title says tried and true and a fellow talented blogger says it is THE RECIPE for cranberry bread it is really hard to resist)and the other is my  mum’s date and carrot bread “cake”.

For the cranberry bread,I slightly modified MJ’s kitchen recipe by using dried cranberries instead of fresh (I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found the dried cranberries, finding fresh ones is not even a possibility). I replaced the water in the recipe with orange juice, I really wanted to intensify the orange flavor. I also doubled the butter in the recipe. Below is the recipe as I made it and you can find MJ’s recipe through the link  above. The bread was everything MJ promised and then some, the marbled cranberry and walnuts in the cut slices, the freshness from the oranges, the slightest crunch from the walnuts, the moist bread all make for a recipe that I will be making again and again

Cranberry walnut bread

Makes 1 loaf
Prep and Cook Time:  60 to 70 minutes

If you need to convert the measurements in this recipe, please visit my conversion tables page.


2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
zest of 1 large orange

3/4 cup orange juice
4 Tbsp. melted butter or shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup walnut meats, chopped
1  cup dried cranberries, cut in half


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Prepare a bread pan by coating the inside with shortening or butter, then dusting lightly with flour.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Melt butter in a measuring cup.  Add the orange juice and zest
  5. Add the beaten egg and mix.
  6. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.
  7. Fold in the nuts and cranberries.
  8. Pour into bread pan.  Batter is very thick.  Gently tap the pan to help spread out batter.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and let set about 4 to 5 minutes.
  11. Use a spatula or knife to loosen sides of bread from pan.
  12. Gently flip the bread pan over to release the cranberry bread.
  13. Flip back over and set on rack to cool.

The other quick bread I am sharing today is one of my mum’s recipes. It is one of my all time favorite bread “cake” recipes to make. The cinnamon and cardamom add a spicy note to the rich date flavor, the smell of this baking in the oven is theraputic!

Date and carrot bread

If you need to convert the measurements in this recipe, please visit my conversion tables page.

2 cups flour

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup pitted chopped dates

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 medium carrot grated

1/2 teaspoon caking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 F(180 C)

Center your oven rack

In the food processor beat the eggs with the vanilla then add the eggs and oil.Beat till the color turns pale

Add the milk and beat till combined

In another bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom.

Toss the nuts and dates in a little dry mix to coat them (this tip prevents the nuts and dates from sinking to the bottom of the pan)

Slowly add the flour mix to the wet mix and whisk to combine.

Add the nuts and dates and fold gently into the mix

Pour the batter into a greased and floured pan, bake for 30-45 minutes(Ovens vary greatly, the cake is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean)

Lis shared some very important notes on  baking bread, I thought I would share these Bread 101 notes with you

  • Baking powder is a combination of acid and alkaline that reacts together when moistened to form gases that raises the baked quick bread. Usage 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of flour.
  • Baking soda (an alkaline salt, sodium bicarbonate) is used when the liquid is acidic, such as buttermilk, honey, molasses, tomato sauce etc. Usage ½ to 1 teaspoon per cup of acidic liquid.
  • Be sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh.
  • Preheat the oven to the correct baking temperature. Arrange racks so that the bread will bake in the center of the oven which has the best heat distribution in the oven.
  • To allow for good air circulation while baking, leave at least 1 inch of space between pans and between pans and sides of oven. Switch pan positions and rotate pans halfway through baking.
  • The two top secrets to moist, tender quick bread is 1)in the mixing always use a quick light technique so you don’t over-mix the batter 2) don’t over-bake since this cause dryness in the final baked product. .
  • Quick breads can be created by the following methods:
  • Lower gluten flours are best to make quick breads you can replace 4 tablespoons in each cup of all-purpose flour with cake flour in most recipes or replace 2 tablespoons in each cup of all-purpose flour with corn flour (cornstarch) if you wish to lower the gluten levels of your flour.
  • Flour should be sifted to aerate it which gives more rise therefore a lighter crumb to the final baked goods.
  • Add fruit, nuts, etc. after lightly combining the wet and dry ingredients. Then give the batter one more light-handed stir and you’re done. Is the batter still thick and lumpy? That’s exactly what you want
  • If you’re adding dried fruit, try soaking it first. This will moisten the fruit, make it tender and juicy, and also preserve the bread’s moisture. Don’t sprinkle dried fruit on top of quick bread before baking, as it will burn before the loaf is done.
  • To lower the fat, for example, you can substitute some (or all) of the oil with an equal amount of almost any fruit puree (apple sauce, plum baby food, pumpkin puree, mashed bananas).
  • Glaze your baked quick breads for a nice finishing touch and burst of flavor. Make a simple mixture of confectioners’ (icing) sugar and a little milk or fruit juice. Try orange and lemon juices, for their fragrant, tart zing; add curls of zest for extra color and flavor.
  • For most quick mix recipes as a general rule – less butter and sugar in a recipe makes it more bread-like, while more butter and sugar produces something closer to cake.
  • To prevent moist quick breads from spoiling, let them cool completely after baking. Then wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. If your bread is made with cheese, cream cheese or other perishable foods, it should be refrigerated.
  • Quick breads such as banana, zucchini and cranberry slice and taste best when served a day after baking. Wrap the cooled bread in foil or plastic wrap; leave at room temperature overnight. Others like cornbread and coffee cakes are best served warm.
  • The quick bread is done if a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If it is not done, test again in a few more minutes.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, unless recipe directs otherwise. Turn loaves out onto a wire rack to cool. Most quick bread should be cooled completely before slicing to prevent crumbling.
  • Using a sawing motion, cut loaves with a thin sharp knife. Use a serrated knife for quick breads that have fruits and/or nuts.
  • Audax posted this liquid to flour ratio on the DB forums (he always knows everything!)- You can use this as a base and play with liquids (milk, buttermilk, orange juice..etc) and flavors(add spices, add fruits and nuts..etc).The ratio by weight for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat. To fill a 9” x 5” (23cm x 13cm) loaf pan, you will need 240 grams of flour, 240 grams of liquid of any kind, 120 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 120 grams of fats. This ratio also works for making muffins. By volume you will need 1¾ cup flour, 1 cup liquid, 2 eggs, ½ cup fat (plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and about 1/2 cup of sugar plus additions). Will follow this ratio the next time I make this loaf.