Posts Tagged With: Quick bread

251/365: National Date Nut Bread Day

Mark your calendar, today’s date is important. Today’s date, in fact, is front and center and baked into bread. September 8 is National Date Nut Bread Day!

In yet another weird twist, December 22 is also devoted to date nut bread. I checked, I double-checked, and then I double-checked again. ‘Tis true. We pay homage to date nut bread twice this year. By then we’ll be steaming down the home stretch, so I probably won’t complain too bitterly that “we’ve already done this holiday!”

The word date is derived from dáktulos, the Greek word for finger. So the next time somebody cuts you off in traffic, give ’em the ol’ dáktulosThey were named for their resemblance to a finger, actually – though that’s a pretty shriveled-looking fat finger, if you ask me. Dates “date” back thousands of years, and were an important staple food for those in the Middle East. Evidence of their existence dates back to as far as 7000 B.C. Wow, were there even people around then? In fact, dates are mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible. They grow on palm trees and ripen in four stages: kimri (unripe), khlal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). They favor warm climates and grow abundantly in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, California, and Arizona.

It’s unclear who first thought of combining dates and nuts into a loaf of bread and baking it, but we’re glad they did – it’s a tasty, slightly sweet and crunchy treat. I used this recipe and baked it up myself. We were both very impressed!

National Date Nut Bread Day

Categories: Bread | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

192/365: National Blueberry Muffin Day

There’s a song that goes “you ain’t seen nothin’ ’til you’re down on a muffin,” and while I doubt very much that Steven Tyler was singing about pastries, we’ll just go ahead and “dream on” today. July 11 is National Blueberry Muffin Day!

Muffins are semi-sweet cakes or quick breads that are baked in individual portion sizes. Today’s “American style” muffins are made without yeast and have been popular since the end of the 18th century, but “English” muffins – made with yeast – date back much further, to the 10th or 11th century, where they originated in Wales and were cooked on a griddle. Muffin rings were used to shape English muffins, while muffin tins are used as molds to shape American-style muffins. Cupcakes, which are like muffins’ sweeter cousin, appeared soon after, around 1828.

Blueberries are one of the most common muffin ingredients; their juicy tartness is the perfect foil for the sweet muffin batter. Plus, they’re tiny enough to fit easily inside an individual muffin. Try sticking an apple or a pear in a muffin – ha! Bet’cha can’t do it. Blueberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, low in calories, and taste friggin’ delicious, too. Minnesota knows: they made the blueberry muffin their official state muffin in 1988, leaving Massachusetts to grumble over their choice, the corn muffin. (“What were we thinking?!”). They can still pahk the cah and grab some blueberry muffins from the corner Piggly Wiggly, I’m sure.

Which is exactly what we did. Only there are no Piggly Wigglys out here, but there are coffee shops galore. Starbucks it was!

National Blueberry Muffin Day

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134/365: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

You don’t need a lot of bread to be able to afford today’s food of honor. May 14 is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Biscuits are small “quick breads” that use baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast and are similar to British scones. European settlers appreciated their simplicity and brought them to America, where they caught on in the early 19th century when cooks were looking for a bread that could be made without yeast, which was expensive and difficult to store at the time. Biscuits were preferred over bread because their harder consistency enabled them to be used to wipe up gravy; as a result, biscuits and gravy became a popular meal. Pre-shaped, ready to bake refrigerator biscuits were introduced in 1931, making it easy for anybody to prepare biscuits whenever the biscuit mood struck.

Buttermilk became a popular ingredient in biscuits, particularly in the South, and are usually served as a side dish topped with butter, syrup, honey, or jelly. They are often used as a base for fast-food breakfast sandwiches, and are traditionally served alongside fried chicken at restaurants that specialize in spaghetti fried chicken.

To celebrate buttermilk biscuits, we didn’t want to take the obvious or the simple approach. We opted instead for a cheesy chicken casserole recipe that uses refrigerated biscuit dough as a topping; as it bakes the dough rises, and you end up with a crunchy, chewy top layer. In other words, deliciousness!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Categories: Bread | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

115/365: National Zucchini Bread Day

Squash any thoughts you might have about giving away a garden’s worth of zucchini today. Turn it into a sweet, savory dessert instead: April 25 is National Zucchini Bread Day!

Similar to banana bread, zucchini bread is considered a “quick bread.” These bread types don’t use yeast as a leavening agent and require no fermentation, so the dough can be baked immediately. Quick breads originated in the United States in the 18th century with the discovery of pearlash, a leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide gas in dough. They became a favorite during the Civil War when food was scarce and a loaf of bread could be whipped up quickly to feed the soldiers, hence the name. Zucchini itself is the result of a squash plant, native to America, that was brought back to Italy and mutated. Which is not to say it grew teeth and started eating people ala Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, though that would make for a rather interesting history. Zucchini grow rapidly and can become quite large, exceeding 3′ in length. They are usually picked when they’re smaller, as the flavor is better and gardeners won’t break their backs hauling them into the kitchen that way. Because they are so easy to grow, they have a reputation for overabundance. Stories persist of people waking up to bags full of zucchini on their front porches, left there in the dead of night by gardeners seeking to rid themselves of excess squash. That’s never happened to me, though I did find a steaming bag of something else on the front porch once. Zucchini bread is the result of home cooks trying to come up with something, anything, to do with all that damn zucchini. The first time I heard of it I though, eww, even though I love zucchini. It didn’t sound very appealing in a bread – but it’s actually very good that way.

For today’s challenge, Tara baked up a loaf of zucchini bread ourselves. It turned out delicious!

Zucchini Bread

Categories: Vegetables | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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