What to Cook Now

The Perfect Holiday Quick Bread

By • December 11, 2013 • 35 Comments

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: A whole wheat, barely sweet quick bread that you'll want on hand as an edible gift, healthy breakfast, and anytime snack -- seasonal fruit optional.

Molasses-Yogurt Quick Bread on Food52

Let's take a moment to dissect the etymology of our old friend the quick bread.

By definition it should be quick; you want to simply mix wet and dry and then combine, and you don't want to leave your home in search of ingredients. Quick breads should be easily stored not only in your proverbial back pocket but also in the back of your mind: memorize quantities, then use that template until the day you head to the big, roomy kitchen in the sky. (Convince Saint Peter to let you in by baking him a loaf -- that's how I plan to do it.) 

Molasses-Yogurt Bread on Food52

It should also, let's call a spade a spade here, be bread. If you want to bake a cake in a loaf pan, that's fine, but it is not bread. Bread does not mean a cup of sugar and half as much oil. I like my quick breads whole wheat and just slightly sweet and, yes, moist (sorry, I know). I want to eat them for breakfast and then go conquer the world!

I recently found myself with odd bits of fruit, which I wanted to turn into a sturdy loaf. So I searched "Mark Bittman quick bread" because that's what you do when you need something free of bells, whistles, or fuss. And I found this lovely little recipe. 

Molasses-Yogurt Bread on Food52

I have baked this bread roughly 20 times in two months. It has two liquid ingredients and four dry. It stays moist (sorry again) for days, and freezes well. Its heartiness comes from whole wheat flour, cornmeal, molasses (unsung, I say!), and yogurt (or milk, if you're out). Everyone loves it: hungry coworkers, picky friends, the barista you have a crush on. It is infinitely adaptable. It is very hard to mess up.

As far as edible gifts go, yogurt bread is something of a dark horse. It's unassuming, not as cute as cookies or as sexy as liqueur. But your friends will appreciate a present that doesn't shove them forcibly into a sugary daze. 

Molasses-Yogurt Bread on Food52 

Here's your plan: Make one large trip to the store and stock up on molasses and yogurt, plus flour and cornmeal if you need them. Bake many loaves. Mix the dry ingredients in a wide-bottomed bowl, incorporating the wet in grand, sweeping motions, not so much stirring as tracing half-moons that end with a flick of the wrist. Your not-overmixed dough, rife with baking soda, will fizz, softly, like a science experiment. 

Speckle it with cranberries if you'd like to be festive, spices and apples when you crave comfort. Bake it for an hour or so. When it's done, a tester should come out clean, and the loaf should feel soft to the touch but not goo-filled; it should hold its own against a gentle press.  

Molasses-Yogurt Bread on Food52

Please let it cool completely before slicing or wrapping. Please keep a loaf for yourself. Slice it in the morning and spread it with the best butter you can find. You will then be fully prepared to conquer the world -- or at least the holiday season.

Molasses-Yogurt Quickbread on Food52

Yogurt Bread with Molasses

Very lightly adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007)

Makes one loaf

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat, or a mix of whole wheat and rye)
1/2 cup medium- or coarse-grind cornmeal
1 generous teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 cups whole milk yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped fruit, or nuts
Butter, for greasing the pan

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Eric Moran

Jump to Comments (35)

Tags: edible gifts, baking, bread, quick breads, quickbread, yogurt, molasses, mark bittman, edible gifts, Christmas, winter, cranberries, breakfast, snacks

Comments (35)

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Hagolem_-_portrait!

9 months ago Sherman

If I wanted to make this bread for my diabetic mother [type II], what might I substitute for the molasses?

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

I'm not sure about that -- what do you usually use as a sugar substitute? I wonder if you could use unsweetened apple sauce -- this could add some natural sweetness. If you want it to be 100% sugar-free, you could play around with increasing the yogurt, or using 1/2 cup olive oil instead of the molasses. I'm not familiar with diabetic-friendly baking, so I'm sorry I can't be of more help!

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9 months ago nitya

Marian,your yogurt bread reminds me of my yogurt cake and the one that i had recently baked had dried cranberries and your recipe has inspired me to bake a bread in my non-conventional oven, which more like a bundt pan and always makes ring cakes, but for once it will be a bundt bread.In ahmedabad i might not find the molasses but will have to think of something else.In place of cornmeal i would like to use semolina/cream of wheat and see how it turns out.Thank you for the great idea.(actually you have helped me crack my puzzle of baking bread in my bundt pan oven)

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Yes, you could definitely use semolina! If you have date syrup where you are, you may be able to use that. Honey also works! Good luck -- keep me posted on how it turns out!

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9 months ago ChuckT

Because of the size of the crystals in kosher salt, you're consuming a bit less sodium than you would with an equivalent quantity of regular salt. I've been using it for years and find it infinitely more flavorful than regular salt.

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Good to know -- thanks, ChuckT!

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9 months ago Vicky K

Could you please tell me what is up with the relatively new fad surrounding kosher salt? What is it supposed to do differently? I recently used some in a soup, and I admit that I was a bit heavy handed with it, but the result was inedible for the particular sharpness or almost chemical taste. It was Mortons. Maybe they dont do kosher right (?) ;)

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

You know, I don't know a whole lot about kosher salt. This would be a great question for the hotline!

Stringio

9 months ago Suman Nayak Varadaraj

Oh, and the bread looks delicious too.

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Thank you!!

Stringio

9 months ago Suman Nayak Varadaraj

Are you me Marian? Those lines you use to describe yourself suit me to a tee.

Stringio

9 months ago Annerieke Willemze

Hi Marian, here in the Middle East I can only get fruit molasses (grape, mulberry, date, pomegranate, carob). I have never had American style molasses, do you have any idea which fruit taste would work best and if it is a substitute at all?

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

If date molasses is like date syrup, you could probably use that! It's a little thinner than the molasses we have here (which is quite viscous), so you may need to add a bit less than 1/2 cup. Let me know if you give it a try!

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9 months ago DessertByCandy

Waiting to cool is the hardest part! Saw the post last night and that was what I baked first thing this morning. Will report back on outcome.

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9 months ago DessertByCandy

Thank you for the most wonderful inspiration. I just had a slice and it was very comforting on this dreary day. I only very roughly followed the recipe and used a blend of flours for more complex taste. Breakfast for the next few days are taken care of!
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1/4 cup toasted wheat germs
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup russet apples
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Nice! I love buckwheat flour. Glad it brought you some comfort!

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9 months ago Gayathri

Do you think I could replace the molasses here with melted jaggery?
-Gayathri

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Oh wow, yes -- I love jaggery! I would definitely give that a try, although it might be a little less thick than molasses, so perhaps add a little less than 1/2 cup. Let me know how it turns out!

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9 months ago Amanda Shulman

ugh Marian you wax such poetic

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

oh, stop.

Miglore

9 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

My favorite of the 20 times Marian made this was the day we ate half a loaf, alternately burying it under slabs of Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam cheese and very expensive-seeming French butter. This stuff is so good!

Me

9 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I sustained myself through the pop-up with yogurt bread and butter sandwiches! It was like a fancy power bar, and I loved it so much.

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9 months ago latenac

Perfect timing I was considering baking something that we could have for breakfast tomorrow and had some cranberries leftover from our CSA share.

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Awesome!

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9 months ago adavis135

Hmm. I need to brush up on my kitchen chemistry--what do you think the effect would be if I used the non-fat greek yogurt that's in my fridge?

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

I think you *could* use it, but I definitely recommend the full fat yogurt -- especially since this has no other fat in it. I think the fat in the yogurt contributes to the really great texture. But it definitely shouldn't break or anything. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Me

9 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I've never read a description so pretty about not over-mixing. Does it count as a holiday gift if I keep all of the loaves for myself?

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

treatyoself.

Mrs._larkin_370

9 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

nooooo, not the "m" word. Seriously though, I will make this for tomorrow's Hobbit party.

Me

9 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Moist moist moist.

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Please tell me everything about this hobbit party! P.S. I once had a pet tree frog named Bilbo.

Mrs._larkin_370

9 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Details remain unclear. Most likely, several ring-shaped foods. Ronzoni pasta rings (the only box of rings in the entire pasta aisle, so clearly this was meant to be). Also, onion rings and peach chewy candy rings.

This article provides a host of ideas: http://www.npr.org/blogs...

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

One quick bread to rule them all, one quick bread to find them, one quick bread to bring them all, and in the darkness, bind them?

Mrs._larkin_370

9 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

whoa. epic.

made my quick bread yesterday. i like it. reminds me of pumpernickel - or did i screw something up?

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9 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Did you use rye flour? I can see that!