Want to Make a Better Quick Bread? Try Using Muffin Batter

updated Sep 23, 2019
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Credit: Brooklyn Supper/Kitchn

I love quick breads. I love making them, I love eating them, and I love giving them as gifts, because I’ve found other people love getting them almost as much.

They aren’t showy like sourdough bread, or deeply traditional like challah, but I can’t imagine going too long without making one: They’re perfect for welcoming new neighbors and new babies, for bringing to potlucks, or making connections to a new community. And here’s a secret I learned not that long ago: Quick breads are basically just muffins all baked together!

I love how a good homemade muffin — fresh summer blueberry muffins or fall bake-sale pumpkin muffins — anchor me to a season in time. But if you’ve ever tried a banana muffin recipe and suddenly thought of toasting up a slice of banana bread for breakfast, you may have wondered just how different those two recipes are?

What Makes a Quick Bread So Quick?

Instead of yeast, quick breads use baking soda and/or baking powder as leavening agents, to make the dough rise. The term “quick bread” covers a wide variety of baked goods, from banana bread, to biscuits, cornbread, pancakes — and muffins. Often, the dry ingredients and wet ingredients of quick bread batters are mixed separately, then everything is combined until just moistened. The moisture in the batter and the heat of the oven activates the leavening, lifting the loaf (or muffin, pancake, or cake).

There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty when it comes to baking, but it’s not as difficult as its reputation may suggest. Yes, you need to stick to the formula more closely than you do with, say, your average dinner recipe. But baking recipes can be easily adapted, with a little know-how. And a great place to start is to take your favorite muffin batter and try baking it in a variety of pans.

Baking Pan Substitutions

Here’s a good rule of thumb: The batter yield of a typical 12-muffin recipe is roughly equivalent to the batter needed to fill a 9×5-inch loaf pan or an 8×8-inch pan. Eight cups of batter will fill either of those pans about 3/4 full. And while muffins typically take 20 to 25 minutes to bake in a 350 degree oven, the denser bread will likely need closer to 45 to 60 minutes.

If you need more servings (for, say, a party or bake sale) then here’s how to scale up for a bigger pan: You can double the muffin recipe and pour the batter into a 9×13-inch baking pan, or a 10-inch Bundt pan. Those pans typically hold 12 to 14 cups of batter. The bake time in a 350 degree oven depends on the depth of the batter in the pan, but can range from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the recipe.

It takes patience and careful observation the first time you put a batter into a new pan. When you adjust baking pan size, it is more important than ever to use your senses to determine doneness, not just the buzz of a timer. Smell for caramelization (and not burning), press the center of the muffin to see if it springs back, check the edges of the loaf to see if they pull away from the sides of the pan, and use a cake tester to test for doneness — a few moist crumbs are ok, but wet batter is not!