Quick breads are a fairly recent addition to the baking repertoire, dating only from the middle of the 19th century, when baking powder first became widely available. Before that, there were quick breads leavened only with baking soda, since bicarbonate of soda was in general use for baking already toward the first half of the 19th century. For more information on baking powder versus other leaveners.
There are several categories of quick breads, all of which are represented by recipes in this chapter: Loaves baked in a rectangular loaf pan and meant to be sliced and spread with butter or cream cheese when served; biscuits, the classic quick bread of the American South; scones, sweetened dough similar to that for biscuits, but shaped as a disk and cut into wedges before baking; and, finally, muffins, individual breads often enriched with fresh or dried fruit. This chapter also includes a recipe for fancy rusks, the plainer versions of which are usually made with yeast. As their name implies, quick breads require a minimum of time. Most can be in the oven in less than 30 minutes, and many are best served right after they’ve cooled a little, making them one of the best sources of instant baking gratification.