Violet Beauregard

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.

“Wild” blueberries:
-strongly flavored
-bright blue with a pretty bloom (whitish coating)
-more crimefighting antioxidant capabilities
-beloved by bears

Commercial blueberries:
-taste like balls
-only less distinctive
-slightly chemical taste (from all the delicious pesticides)
-weak flavor
-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.

Bake at 350 until the tops are lightly golden, slightly split, and a cake tester (toothpick) comes out clean with a few sticky crumbs stuck to it.

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.

7 thoughts on “Violet Beauregard”

  1. I just bought a flat of organic blueberries (not wild, but THIS IS OREGON SO SUCK IT). Only $20! I made and canned a bunch of blueberry-elderflower preserves and a quart of pie filling, then froze a gallon of them for later buttermilk coffeecake.

    Wild huckleberries are different, Cookie, but they're in the same genus. They're fantastic.

  2. I have a blueberry bush in my garden but sadly it has not been as productive as a child-bearing female in her prime.

    What does knock my socks off however, are mountain huckleberries (which I maintain are pretty much blueberries, I don't care what everyone else thinks…they're BLUE) when we go camping in the mountains. These things are the mainstay of the bear diet in the North Cascades (you can tell from their purple poop along the trails), and they are outstanding. Fill a couple Nalgene bottles before heading out and fill the freezer with goodness.

    I usually just sprinkle them on my oatmeal, but you've given me something more interesting to make than muffins. Thank you for that.

  3. One of my favorite things is blueberry pancakes made with organic blueberries. But this bread looks even better. I can usually find a small bag of frozen organic blueberries at Trader Joe's or WhoFo, when Costco runs out. Steel-cut oatmeal topped with these, and a little milk and honey also terrific.

  4. Call it "breakfast bread" all you want, but that there is just a muffin loaf and you know it.

    Our 3 giant high-bush blueberries that I put in last year have given us quarts and quarts so far this summer, and they're not done yet. Suck on THAT, Portland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *