If I lived in…well…anywhere but Colorado, with its dry, crumbly, alkaline soil, I’d be a blueberry farmer. I love me some blueberries, and they’re so chock-full of antioxidants that it’s basically like eating little nuggets of targeted radiation against cancer. Free radicals? Take a hike. Plus, blueberries are absolutely gorgeous and they attract bears. Like a female of child-birthing age, kind of, only blueberries don’t spend much of their time being difficult and emotional.
Where was I?
Oh yeah. My love affair with blueberries. There’s an important distinction to be had here, though. Commercially grown blueberries and wild, natural blueberries are very different animals indeed.
-bright blue with a pretty bloom (whitish coating)
-more crimefighting antioxidant capabilities
-beloved by bears
-taste like balls
-only less distinctive
-slightly chemical taste (from all the delicious pesticides)
-big, plump appearance
-bears scoff at these imposters
Now, if you can’t get your hands on wild, local blueberries (probably because you live in the four corners region of the US), you do have other options. First, you can buy frozen, organic, enormous bags of wild blueberries at Costco for like, $10. Those are great for smoothies, pancakes, breads, oatmeal, whathaveyou. Second, you can wait until your grocery store has them on sale for a 5 lb box of organic for $8, and then buy them anyway, regardless of “wildness.” And when that happens, and you realize they aren’t so good for eating out of hand, you should bake bread with them.
What bread? This bread:
Blueberry Meyer Lemon Breakfast Bread
-5 C unbleached AP flour
-2 T baking powder
-1 t salt
-1.5 C granulated sugar
-3/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
-4 free-range eggs
-2 cups milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-2 t grated meyer lemon zest (fresh or reconstituted dried)
-3 cups blueberries
Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Or, if you’re lazy like me, just put them in a bowl and whisk together until you feel they’re adequately combined and lump-free.
Cut in the butter like you would if making biscuits or a pie crust. I like to use a real pastry blender (like this one ) to do the job. It’s faster, and if you make a lot of pies and biscuits, it comes in handy. You can use two knives if you don’t have a pastry blender.
Stir your blueberries into your dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix together your wet ingredients, including your meyer lemon zest.
Finally (and this should come as no shock to you), add your wet ingredients to your dried ingredients, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or spatula until there aren’t any remaining pockets of dry ingredients left. Don’t overmix, either.
Pour into some greased loaf pans. You can use a mixture of sizes. I used 4 miniature loaf pans and one full-sized bread loaf pan. You could also do two large and a mini, or one large and some muffins or two minis and an old bucket. Whatever you’ve got on hand, really.
Sprinkle the tops with a liberal amount of coarse sugar, or coarse vanilla sugar if you’ve got it. Mmmmmm. Vanilla sugar.
Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then slide out of the pans and cool on a rack until room temperature. You can slice them warm, but only slice as much as you need. The rest are easily wrapped and frozen for those mornings when you’re either too hungover or too lazy to make anything more elaborate than “something defrosted,” but you have guests staring at you with clear Martha Stewart expectations in their eyes.
The benefits of this bread are countless. First, it’s really, really moist. Second, it’s still easily cuttable without crumbling. Third, it’s freakin’ delicious. Fourth, it’s even more delicious with some sweet cream butter (salted, in this case) spread across the top. Fourth, it can be toasted (carefully) and slathered with more butter. Fifth, it makes a good gift bread. Sixth, everyone likes it, even your mom. Or my mom, I guess. She saw it on Facebook and promptly called to request that I deliver some to her place of employ, which I did like a nice daughter.
You can use regular lemon if you can’t find meyer lemon. I like meyer lemons, though. They’re less acidic and more sweet than your traditional yeller lemon, and I like the aroma quite a bit more. I got the dehydrated zest from a place in Chicago called “The Spice House.” They also have dried Seville orange zest (bitter orange), which works wonders when sevilles aren’t in season.
Seventh, I’m pretty sure bears like it. Though they’ll definitely know that you didn’t use wild blueberries, because otherwise why haven’t they seen you around their cave? Hmmm?? Riddle them that.