Because ovens can vary significantly and some reflect more hear down from the top, check the color of the bread after about 30 minutes of baking. If the top is browning too quickly, loosely cover the bread with a piece of foil to prevent it from becoming too dark. Cracked tops and splits down the center of the loaves are normal and characteristic of the appearance of the quick breads. If you find you’re consistently having trouble getting your quick breads completely done in the center, try baking the batter in muffin cups instead of in loaf pans. Muffins have more batter surface area exposed to the pan, so they will heat and bake faster. A quick bread recipe that fits 4 ½ x 8 ½ -inch loaf pan will make 12 muffins.
Testing For Doneness
A quick bread load is done when there is no sigh of wet batter in the crack and the top looks dry and is lightly firm to touch. The top will be golden brown, the bread should slightly pull away from the sides of the pan, and a wooden pick inserted in the center will come out clean without any moist batter or crumbs. If the center is still gooey when you test it, bake loaves for another 10 minutes and test again.
Muffins are done when the tops have risen well above the cup, are golden brown, and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Overbaking can cause gluten-free muffins to be dry.
When the bread or muffins are done, remove the pan from the oven and immediately turn them out of the pan. Leaving a gluten-free quick bread or muffins in the pan will cause the bottom to become soggy. Let the bread cool on a wire rack to allow even air circulation. Gluten-free quick breads and muffins cool best when laid on their sides on the rack. This shifts the weight of the bread and helps the loaves and muffins maintain their shape as they cool.
Sprouted Flour Baking Tips
Sprouted grain dough tends to be a lot stickier than traditional dough, and giving in to the temptation to add extra flour to cut the stickiness results in a heavier denser loaf. If you want your sprouted loaves to be lighter, stop mixing when the dough is still sticky, and oil up your hands and the counter and knead with the oil instead of flouring everything. This also saves on those extra bits of precious flour!
It is important to allow for a shorter raise time on sprouted breads because they rise faster than traditional 100% whole grain breads (and when a sprouted loaf falls, it craters royally!). I usually allow 20 to 30 minutes for my loaves to double in size, and when the oven heat hits them, they poof even more! I attribute this to the fact that the sprouting process frees up the natural sugars found in grain, which not only makes it sweeter, it is like ambrosia for your yeast, resulting in a quicker raise.
I prefer an “oven raise” for sprouted loaves. I preheat the oven to 170 degrees, turn it off and put oil topped loaves in to raise with the door shut (You can also give loaves a light spritz of non-stick olive oil spray if you prefer not to add extra oil). When I am ready to bake, I simply turn the oven on!
A great tool to have in bread making is a temperature probe. It’s an indicator that your dough has been sufficiently kneaded (when dough reaches 75-80 degrees). It’s also a great way to test the doneness of your bread in the center (190 to 206 degrees).
The Window Pane Test is a good way to determine that you’ve sufficiently kneaded your bread dough. Pinch up a small amount of dough and stretch it between your fingers until you can somewhat see through it(the window pane effect)without the dough breaking apart. This means the strands of gluten have strengthened and bonded well with the yeast. Otherwise, you need to continue to knead your dough.
Paul, a TYH customer, offered the following tip from his baking experience: "I’ve been using Himalayan Pink salt in my bread. It adds even more to the taste of your wonderful flour."
"Steaming" your bread dough gives your bread time to rise in the middle during baking and makes a nice crust. You can do this by spraying your loaves with water right before placing in the oven or by placing a small pan of boiling water on the top rack of the oven when you place your loaves inside, or you can throw some ice cubes in a cast iron skillet when you put your loaves in the oven. Be sure to place the skillet in the oven when you turn it on to preheat.
For a higher rise in your bread try adding vinegar in an equal amount to the yeast in your recipe. If your recipe calls for a packet of dry active yeast add 2 teaspoons of vinegar as well. Beats adding unwholesome ingredients to your fresh sprouted bread!
Steaming your bread gives it time to rise in the middle during baking and makes a nice crust.
There are several ways to do this:
- Spritz the top of your loaf right before placing in the oven
- Spritz the inside of your oven right before placing your loaf in(be careful not to spritz the glass on the door or the oven light)
- Or place a pie tin of boiling water in oven 15 minutes before placing bread in oven.
Moisture in Bread Baking
A loaf made with water has a heavy, crisp crust and a chewy texture characteristic of country breads and hard rolls. Milk gives a light, even texture and a thin brown crust, and the added fat keeps bread fresh longer. A combination of the two makes the most tender bread. Before you use tap water, know that hard water is alkaline; it weakens gluten and makes a loaf with less volume. Soft water is slightly acid, making the yeast more active. It’s best to use spring or bottle water.
Some sort of sweetener is usually needed to act as a food for the yeast and give character to the finished loaf. The amount of sweetener also determines how dark the crust will be. To substitute honey and other liquid based sweeteners for granulated sugars, use ¾ cup honey for each cup of sugar and reduce the total liquid used in the recipe by ¼ cup.
from Beth Hensperger's Bread Made Easy,
A Baker’s First Bread Book