blueberry & lemon bread
Thanks to this blueberry & lemon bread with citrus glaze, I learned the handiest of baking tips yesterday! Well, when it comes to baking bread with fruit anyway.
I have to share it…clearly.
I’m such a kitchen geek, too, because I couldn’t wipe a grin off my face for…well, a loooooong time once I tested the tip out and found it to be true. I just know that I bored several unfortunate souls in my life yesterday as I shared this little triumph with them. Sorry about that….
So here goes. I learned that if you coat blueberries with flour before folding them into the batter they don’t sink. And it works! See? I’m smiling even as I type this. Perhaps many of you out there already know this and are now quite annoyed at me for making such a big to-do. Sorry about that too… I guess I am showing my inexperience as a baker.
Or wanna-be baker, if I’m going to be completely honest. Sure, I push my shoulders back and puff out my chest a bit and pretend I’m confident about baking something, but all the while I find myself taking shallow breaths and, occasionally, crossing my fingers behind my back for good measure. It’s not at all the relationship I have with the more free-form oriented activity known as cooking. There I am confident. I smile. I laugh. I talk and even make an occasional funny. And most telling of all, I prepare some vessel of alcoholic elixir to accompany me on the journey. In other words, I have fun with it.
Baking still makes me nervous. I keep doing it because, really, who’s going to bake me exactly what I want exactly when I want it? I do it also because I’m hoping that it will get easier over time and that, with each success that I have (and there have been some!), that I’ll soon replace that soothing camomile tea I now make when baking with a stiff screwdriver. Now THAT’s something to look forward to!
Now, when I slice into that wonderfully caramel-colored fresh loaf, I know that I’ll find the blueberries perfectly (ok…almost perfectly) distributed throughout. Aesthetically, it sure beats seeing all those beautiful purple dots sunk down to the bottom.
I found this recipe on Epicurious. I was quite at a loss when looking for blueberry & lemon bread because it’s not something I typically would have made or been inspired by. Notice the past perfect tense on that sentence though (I THINK it’s the past perfect tense… hope I don’t get a pink slip from Grammar Girl!), In any event, I am now a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the blueberry & lemon bread fan club. And the same goes for both my girls, even Alexia, who doesn’t like blueberries. Wow….I know.
So why was I hunting down a recipe for blueberry & lemon bread if I was conceptually less than enamoured with it to begin with? Because I was trying to thank the publisher of the first newspaper to give me a break and accepted my Rustic Plate column. I remember sitting across from him in his office and chatting about food the first time we met, and he started talking about this blueberry and lemon bread he used to eat in Minnesota. If you could have seen the longing in his eyes as he reminisced about this beloved loaf he used to order from a nearby bakery that is now too far away, you would understand why I decided to bake it for him. In any case, that’s what got me experimenting with it and that’s how I got hooked.
Sometimes it pays off to be nice! 😉
making blueberry & lemon bread
Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Also, create a bottom for the loaf pan out of parchment paper and butter that as well. It will make turning out the loaf 1037% easier. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Place 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Whisk it for a few seconds to aerate it.
Place 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of unsalted, room temperature butter and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Cream the butter and sugar until mixture is fully incorporated.
Add first of 2 large eggs into mixture and beat well.
Add the second egg into mixture and beat well.
Zest 1 whole lemon.
Add it and mix well.
Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture.
Followed by 1/4 cup of whole milk.
Mix in the second third of the flour mixture.
Add the last 1/4 cup of whole milk.
Finally, add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture.
As soon as the last of the flour disappears, the batter is done.
Oh, by the way…do you know what I call this?
Why a mid-morning snack of course!
Place 1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries or thawed frozen blueberries (drained if frozen) in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of unbleached flour. Mix well with a spoon until they are all lightly coated with the flour.
Fold in the blueberries into the batter.
At this point, especially if you’re using frozen blueberries that are leaking a bit of their juices, the batter will take on a grayish, unattractive color. The first time I saw it I panicked because I thought I’d be slicing into WWII rationed-looking bread, but alas, the loaf looked beautiful. In those instances, proceed with full abandon.
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, or about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Pierce top of hot loaf several times with toothpick and allow the loaf to cool for 30 minutes in pan on rack.
Turn bread out of pan and cool completely on rack. Makes 8 servings.
Meanwhile, prepare the optional lemon glaze. I absolutely adore this glaze because it adds a compellingly tart and tasty nuance to this moist, sweet bread. Personally, I think it MAKES this bread because it makes it pop so vividly in your mouth. To make it, bring 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice…
to boil in small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour on top. It looks very dramatic!