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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Recipe: Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread

Slice of Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread with Melting Butter

Recipe: Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread



This is not your Grandma Eileen's Irish Soda Bread...

To head off any criticisms, let me start by saying that this Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread really isn't Irish Soda Bread at all... yet there are similarities.  More on those particulars later.

This is the third recipe in my run of The Great British Bake Off inspired posts. Episode three was dedicated to Breads. But seeing as I've already covered a number of basic, and not-so-basic, Breads on the Blog, I didn't want to be repetitive. And after multiple seasons of "Bake Off", it would seem that the producers were facing a similar conundrum. Another Yeast Bread? ... snore! And so the Quick Bread challenge was born.

What is a Quick Bread? 

A Quick Bread is simply a Bread that is made using a chemical leavening agent, such as Baking Soda, rather than a biological leavening agent, namely Yeast. Whereas Yeast is a biological organism that produces gas as it converts simple Sugars into Alcohol (which provides flavor), Baking Soda relies on the gas-producing chemical reaction between an acid and an alkali. The other distinct advantage of a Quick Bread is that no kneading or careful temperature control is required. As a result, it's a faster process from mixing to munching.

When it comes to Quick Breads versus Yeast Breads, the end products are distinctly different. Quick Breads have a denser crumb and a more cake-like texture. Chemical leavening simply cannot produce the large, open crumb of a crunchy Baguette or the complex flavor of a Sourdough. That's not to say a Quick Breads are an inferior product. They are simply different. 

For those interested in other Bread recipes, look no further, as links abound. And as for my Irish Grandmother Eileen, she was more of a Pie woman with a distinct preference for Strawberry Rhubarb and Lemon Meringue. So much for cultural heritage!

Other Bread Recipes to Try:

Bowl of Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread and Slices
But it looks like Irish Soda Bread...

Yes, the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread looks very similar to Irish Soda Bread. The dense crumb is characteristic of any Quick Bread. But an Irish Soda Bread is a made from a much dryer dough and has a more crumbly texture.

Given the generous quantity of steamed Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese in this recipe, the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is very moist. The moisture is an inevitable (and delicious) result of dramatically increasing both the water and fat content of the Cheddar Broccoli Bread Dough, as compared to an Irish Soda Bread.

For Irish Soda Bread purists, there's another notable omission in these loaves. There's no cross-scoring on the top of the Bread. This is by design. It's my way of saying, "No, this isn't an Irish Soda Bread."

Bowl of Mashed Broccoli
It's not just a name. A Quick Bread should be quick to make. And this one is. Only one ingredient needs some special attention, and that is the Broccoli.

To prepare the Broccoli, steam Broccoli Florets until they are fork tender. Immediately place the steamed Broccoli Florets in an ice bath. Once cool, remove any excess water by laying the steamed Broccoli Florets on a paper towel. Once dry, mash the Broccoli Florets into a coarse purée using a fork.

It should only take 3-4 minutes to properly steam the Broccoli. You want some texture, not a mushy mess.

Cooling the Broccoli in an ice bath halts the cooking process and keeps the Broccoli from becoming mush. It also makes it possible to immediately handle the Broccoli without getting burned.

Draining excess water from the steamed Broccoli is extremely important. If the Broccoli is dripping with water from the ice bath, too much water will be added to the Bread Dough. Simply lay the Broccoli Florets on a clean paper towel for a couple of minutes.

A considerable amount of natural water content of the Broccoli is lost during the steaming process. For this recipe, 360g (12 oz) of fresh Broccoli Florets will yield approximately 280g of mashed Broccoli Purée. That's about 75% of the original weight.

Mashing the steamed Broccoli Florets with a fork is the best way to create a rough textured purée. Using a food processor or blender can easily produce too smooth a texture. By using a fork, you'll also appreciate the easier clean-up.

As for other ingredients, the Cheddar Cheese simply needs to be grated with a box grater.

Bowl of Fresh Dill
I feel as though Dill is one of the truly great, but sadly  overlooked, herbs. It has a clean, fresh flavor that pairs perfectly with many Cheeses. In a Broccoli and Cheddar-loaded Bread, it is the ideal, complementary flavor. A few tablespoons of freshly minced Dill is a great addition.

Bowl of Buttermilk and Egg
Most Quick Breads, including Irish Soda Bread, use Buttermilk as the primary wet ingredient. This is in contrast to plain water, which is used for most standard Bread recipes. Why the difference?

Not only does the Quick Bread Dough need some form of hydration, when Baking Soda is used as the leavening agent, some acid must be added in order to activate a gas-producing chemical reaction.

Any acidic fluid can be used to trigger the leavening power of Baking Soda, but Buttermilk is perhaps the most common for Quick Breads. Not only does cultured Buttermilk provide the requisite acid content, it also contributes a depth of flavor and richness that could never be achieved with the likes of White Vinegar or Lemon Juice.

Baking Powder is another commonly used chemical leavening agent, which is actually a derivative of Baking Soda. Unlike Baking Soda, which must be mixed with an acid to activate, Baking Powder just needs to be hydrated. This is because Baking Powder contains several ingredients. One ingredient is Baking Soda. Another is an acid that mixes with the Baking Soda when the Baking Powder gets wet. Another advantage of Baking Powder is that most forms are "double acting", which indicates that a second gas-producing reaction is triggered by the heat of the oven. Think of it as a leavening insurance policy.

Since Baking Powder contains additional compounds, it is not as strong as Baking Soda. As a general rule, Baking Soda is 4x stronger than Baking Powder. While it takes approximately 1 Tsp of Baking Powder to leaven 1 Cup of Flour, you only need 1/4 Tsp of Baking Soda to have the same effect.

Unbaked Loaf of Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread
Mixing the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is a straight-forward process... certainly much easier than any Yeast Bread.

Dice cold Butter into small pieces and cut (i.e. break into pea-sized, flour-coated chunks) those pieces into the dry ingredients (i.e. Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt). In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed Broccoli, grated Cheddar Cheese and minced Dill. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, stir the Broccoli mixture into the Flour mixture until the ingredients are just combined. 

In a separate bowl, gently whisk together the wet ingredients, including the Buttermilk, Egg and Sugar. With the electric mixer still on medium-low speed, stream the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread Dough is just combined.

There is no need to knead a Quick Bread like a Yeast Bread. Sufficient gluten is developed from the quick mixing process. In fact, over-mixing a Quick Bread will result in an undesirably dense loaf.

Divided the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread Dough into two even portions, and form them into round loaves. The Bread Dough will be very wet, but it can be easily formed into a ball by hand.

Bowl of Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread and Slices
Bake the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread on a parchment lined sheet tray at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for approximately 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). The loaves should be lightly brown on the outside, and a tester should remove clean.

Do not under-bake the loaves. Given the denser nature of a Quick Bread Dough (particularly one with this much Cheese!), it will take a while for the loaves to fully bake.

As soon as the loaves are cool enough to handle, transfer the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread from the sheet tray to a wire cooling rack. Leaving the loaves on the sheet tray can cause moisture to condense on the bottom of the loaves.

Slices of Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread with Butter and Salt
The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is best served warm on the day it is made. The Bread will keep well for 3-4 days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container with a paper towel.

The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread can be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread to cool completely, and then double wrap the loaf in plastic wrap. Allow the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread to temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic wrap.

The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is best served after it has been heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 10 minutes.





- The Recipe -




Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread:


Yield1,350g (Two 9" Round Loaves)

Item One Ingredients:
  • Broccoli Florets, steamed: 360g (12 oz) - yields ~280g steamed and dried
  • Cheddar Cheese, grated: 180g (6 oz)
  • Fresh Dill, minced: 2 Tbls

  • Butter, chilled: 57g (0.25 Cup / 0.5 Stick)
  • Flour: 480g (4 Cups)
  • Baking Soda: 9g (2 Tsp)
  • Baking Powder: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Salt: 9g (1.5 Tsp)

  • Buttermilk: 240g (1 Cup)
  • Egg: 50g (1x)
  • Sugar: 50g (0.25 Cup)


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Line a sheet tray with parchment paper for baking the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread.

2. Steam the Broccoli Florets until they are fork tender, then transfer them to an ice bath to cool. As soon as the Broccoli Florets are cool, drain them of any excess water on a paper towel. Once drained, mash the Broccoli Florets with a fork until they form a rough textured purée. Grate the Cheddar Cheese. Mince the Dill. Combine the Broccoli Puree, grated Cheddar Cheese and minced Dill in a medium mixing bowl, and set the bowl aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the Flour, Baking Soda,  Baking Powder and Salt. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the chilled Butter into the dry ingredients.

Chef's Note: This is a very small amount of Butter relative to the dry ingredients. It is also possible to dice the Butter into very small pieces and then cut it into the dry ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed for about a minute.

4. In a separate bowl, gently whisk together the Buttermilk, Egg and Sugar until they are well combined.

5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the Broccoli and Cheese mixture to the Flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. With the mixer still on medium-low speed, stream in the Buttermilk mixture. Mix the Cheddar Broccoli Dough until the ingredients just come together into a homogeneous mixture.

Chef's Note: Once the Buttermilk mixture is added to the Cheddar Broccoli Dough, do not over-mix. While some gluten development is desirable for a Bread, too much mixing will make the loaves overly dense. Also, keep in mind that once the Buttermilk is added to the dry ingredients, the Baking Soda is activated, releasing gas to leaven the Cheddar Broccoli Dough. Additional mixing will release the gas from the Cheddar Broccoli Dough, and this will also produce dense loaves.

6. Divide the Cheddar Broccoli Dough into two equal portions (~650g). Using you hands, gently form each portion into a circular loaf and place it on the parchment lined sheet tray, leaving sufficient space between loaves.

Chef's Note: The Cheddar Broccoli Dough will be very moist and sticky, but it can still be easily formed into a ball by hand and placed on the sheet tray. Do not over-work the Cheddar Broccoli Dough when forming the loaves.

7. Bake the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread for approximately 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). The loaves should be lightly brown on the outside, and a tester should remove clean.

8. Transfer the loaves to a wire cooling rack as soon as they can be safely handled (approximately five minutes). Allow the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread to cool for an additional 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Chef's Note: Do not allow the loaves to cool on the sheet tray. The moisture that is released as the loaves cool will condense on the bottom and can make the Bread soggy.

Storage:
- The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is best served warm on the day it is made. The Bread will keep well for 3-4 days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container with a paper towel.
- The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Breadcan be frozen for up to a month. Bread that has been frozen is best served warmed or toasted. Before freezing, allow the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread to cool completely, and then double wrap the loaf in plastic wrap. Allow the Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread to temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic wrap.
- The Cheddar Broccoli Quick Bread is best served after it has been heated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) oven until warmed through - approximately 10 minutes.  



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2 comments:

  1. This is a healthy snack I must say. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'll go ahead and try this out tonight. My daughter will be the one to taste it first haha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The recipe you shared is a very delicious one. I usually don't like vegetables so through this kind of recipe i can have few vitamins at least.

    ReplyDelete