Quick Bread Vs Yeast Bread: How Do They Differ?

Bread is one of the most essential parts of any chef’s lineup of foods. After all it’s one of the most versatile foods in the world and can be turned into anything, or made into a side dish for anything. But between the two main types, yeast bread and quick bread, which is better? Just what is the difference?

The main difference is the amount of time that the bread takes to bake. Quick bread is faster to rise and requires less wait time. This is due to quick bread using fast-acting baking powder and baking soda in place of yeast.

But is that all there is to it? Is quick bread simply the same as yeast bread, but faster? If so, why use yeast bread at all? Well, let’s look deeper into the subject and see what our conclusion ends up being.

Quick Bread And Yeast Bread Overview

What is Quick Bread?

In simplest terms, quick bread is bread made with the aid of baking soda and/or baking powder. These agents help leaven the bread in place of the traditional yeast leavening treatment. ‘Leavening’ refers to the practice of getting bread to rise, for those who aren’t familiar.

Thanks to baking soda and baking powder being fact-acting agents, your bread will rise almost as soon as you put into the oven. The dough might even be spotted bubbling a bit while it’s still in the bowl! Indeed, it shouldn’t be any surprise that quick bread is very quick to make.

They are the more convenient option and with the right preparation, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice much in the way of quality and taste to get there. They can be flavored in various ways, whether you’re looking for sweetness or you’re craving that umami. 

Their shape can vary. Biscuits often follow this same model, making use of baking soda or baking powder; muffins too!

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Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Leavening (Baking soda and/or baking powder)
  • Eggs
  • Fat (provided by butter, margarine, oil and/or shortening)
  • Milk
  • Water

Examples

Recipes that can made with quick bread include, but are not limited to:

  • Lemon Bread
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Zucchini Bread
  • Buttery Cornbread
  • Peach Cobbler Bread
  • Cran-Almond Loaf
  • Honey Spice Bread
  • Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread
  • Banana Bread
  • Soft Sesame Breadsticks

What is Yeast Bread?

Yeast breads on average have a lower sugar and fat content as compared to typical quick breads. And they take a bit more work and require more time and patience. If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook handy, you’ll need to brush up on your kneading skills, then give it a little bit to rise.

However the rising process itself is a very hands-off affair. Simply cover the dough and wait. It might take longer but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a difficult process. 

Making bread from scratch through use of yeast might take some getting accustomed to for people that are used to quick bread, certainly. But it’s really no different from cooking most other things at the end of the day, it’s a simple combination of ingredients and giving them time to bake.

Ingredients

  • Yeast
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Fat (provided by butter, margarine, oil and/or shortening)
  • Milk
  • Water

Examples

While you can realistically make many similar dishes with either quick or yeast bread, yeast is more recommended for these choices:

  • Italian Bread
  • French Bread
  • Batter Rolls
  • Overnight Rolls
  • Potluck Pan Rolls
  • Yeast Rolls
  • Dutch Oven Bread
  • English Batter Buns
  • Garlic Parmesan Bread
  • Bread Bowls 

What’s the Difference Between Yeast Bread and Quick Bread?

As you can see above, the difference between the two is actually negligible. The truth is that you do all the same stuff to make either, and can by and large make similar dishes with either result as well. The only catch is the yeast.

Yeast bread obviously has it, and quick bread of course does not. As a result, quick bread rises faster and thus takes a lot less time to bake than it’s yeasty counterpart. Flavor can be affected by many factors and the same ingredients can be used for either, leavening aside. So either one could be sweet, sour or savory depending on preference.

Why use yeast then? If it’s the same but slower, doesn’t that make it strictly worse? Well, not really, people still make use of yeast bread for the difference in texture, more than anything. Different leavening methods will lead to a different ‘feel’ for the bread. That is the main difference. And that leads us to our next question…

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Which is Better Between Quick Bread and Yeast Bread?

Generally speaking, yeast bread made patiently, the quote-on-quote old-fashioned way, is going to be softer and fluffier than quick bread. That likely has a lot to do with the rigorous kneading process that quick bread doesn’t really require. 

That means quick bread by contrast might be a little harder and crunchier. Sometimes you’re going to want softness, like for a cake or other pastries like that. There’s no doubt that soft, fluffy bread is a pleasant thing to bite into.

However there’s also going to be situations where you might prefer something crunchier, like with a breadstick. You’d expect those to be a little sturdy so as not to fall apart, right?

Of course even this texture thing can vary. You can soften quick bread or harden yeast bread depending on specifics. This is all to say that there really isn’t an end all and be all answer here. Neither is strictly better than the other.

Ultimately, like almost everything in food, it comes down to preference and the situation at hand. One bread might be better for a different circumstance.

What About Sourdough Bread Or Rye Bread?

Sourdough bread is, as you’d expect from the name, fairly sour on average compared to other breads. It’s also often said to be tangy. They are made through fermented flour and water rather than typical yeast. Bread baked with the sourdough starter – a natural leavening agent – tends to take longer to rise than the traditional method.

Rye bread is particularly noted as a good option for the more health-conscious out there, as it compares nicely to other types of bread. It’s got more nutritional value than typical white bread for sure, packed with vitamins and minerals. Like it’s sourdough brethren, Rye bread is also sour, but with more of an Earthy tinge.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is quick bread easier to make than yeast bread?

Yeast breads take a lot of time and patience to bake because you have to allot time for the dough to proof and rise first. But with the use of food-safe chemical leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda, this is something people managed to avoid with quick bread.

The lack of wait and fermentation time leads to a much quicker baking experience. In addition, yeast bread needs a good kneading, which requires more effort unless you have a proper mixer.

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What happens to bread if you don’t use yeast?

Obviously there are alternatives out there, but in general, the bread might not rise as tall as you’re accustomed to. The taste and texture of the bread will also be affected of course. You’ll want to look for another leavening solution if you’re out of, or don’t plan on using, yeast.

What is the poor man’s bread?

The phrase used to be that hope was the poor man’s bread, but that’s rather a glum answer. There actually is a real thing out there with that nickname as well, but it’s not really a kind of bread either. 

This term refers to watercress, also known as yellowcress or simply cress. This is a leafy, aquatic vegetable from the cabbage family. It gained it’s nickname from the period in the 1800s where it was frequently sold by street vendors – many of them children – on the sidewalks of London.

In Conclusion…

On the surface, it might seem that quick bread is simply superior, since it does much of what yeast bread does, only faster. And it manages to do so without sacrificing much, if anything, in the way of quality. That is likely why quick bread is gaining in popularity.

However, yeast bread does have it’s advantages. If you’re looking for a softer and fluffier bread, it’s easier to achieve that with yeast bread on average. Yeast breads are often said to be lower in fat and sugar content as well, meaning it might be the healthier choice.

Not to mention it’s more natural, if you’re looking for organic options, since it doesn’t make use of chemical compounds like baking soda. So yeast bread might be the way to go for the health-conscious out there. 

Some recipes might be better suited to one type of bread over the other. So it’s all a matter of preference and what you might be planning to make, at the end of the day. Both quick bread and yeast bread are tried-and-true and have many who swear by them. It’s unlikely that you’ll go wrong with either one!