Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quick Bread For A Crowd

Even little slices of honey spice bread. I baked the bread in a 9x13 cake pan instead of two 9x5 loaf pans.
For a recent catering job I was asked to put together an array of easy to eat and healthy snacks for 100 seminar attendees who would begin arriving for registration at 8 a.m. and just might need a bit of sustenance.

Because it was early in the morning, I knew I wanted to serve two kinds of quick breads — cranberry and honey spice — in addition to a cheese board and a large platter of fresh fruit.

I quickly nixed baking the quick breads in muffin form since besides the fact that I would need to spend way too much time pouring muffin batter into muffin cups, I thought people would prefer the bread in slices since it could be cut into smaller portions, would look pretty arranged on the cheeseboard and be easy to eat.

So I decided on baking the bread in loaves but then I realized I only had two loaf pans which would still require multiple baking sessions. So I instead baked the breads in 9x13 cake pans and it worked like a charm. A single recipe of a quick bread that yields 2 loaves fills a 9x13 pan perfectly. And, baking the batter in the larger and shallower pan didn't affect the quality of the bread one bit. I just made certain to watch it carefully in the oven because I was uncertain of how long it would take to cook. It actually cooked 5 minutes faster.

I was able to get 60 servings out of each pan by cutting the bread into thirds lengthwise and then cutting each third into 20 slices. A bonus was that the slices were even-sized and smallish to help prevent waste.

Now I know there is no reason to stress over making quick bread for a crowd. And, here are two tips that will make it even easier:

  1. Be sure the bread has cooled completely before slicing. I baked the bread a full day before the event and sliced it right before serving.
  2. Line your baking pan with greased foil or parchment that extends over the sides so that you can lift the breads completely out of the pan to slice.

I lined my baking pan with greased foil so that I was able to complete lift the cranberry bread out of the pan to slice.

 And, here's my favorite cranberry bread recipe:

Cranberry Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line with foil two 9x5 loaf pans. Also butter the bottom and sides of the foil.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and dried cranberries. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, canola oil, eggs and sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Don't over mix. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before removing and serving.

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