Just sayin', if you haven't had lunch and you make this extraordinary blueberry bread that's chock full of walnuts and has hints of lemon running throughout, you may be at risk of gobbling down half the loaf before you know what's happened. Not that I speak from personal experience of course--I'm just here with a hypothetical cautionary tale. Ha! But seriously, I've made a lot of quick breads in my day, and none have ever called out to me the way this one does. And maybe that's because it's more of a cake than a bread, but no matter--go get yourself some fresh berries and get started, 'cause this one's a keeper and the blueberry season is all too short.
Blueberries just scream summer to me. Yes, you can buy them out of season but they're usually a fortune and kind of tasteless and while frozen ones may be okay in a pinch, there's really no substitute for the sweetness and indescribable "blueberry-ness" of the real thing. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, they're also one of my favorite fruits to pick! No matter what, I've got to find some time in my suddenly intensely busy work schedule for a blueberry picking adventure!
Not sure what makes this particular blueberry loaf so incredible. As I've said before, I've made others and none have ever blown me away. Maybe it's the fact that there's milk in the batter which makes the crumb tender and moist--maybe it's the fact that the whole thing is just chock full of berries and walnuts. Maybe it's the lemon zest or the crunchy sugary top crust. In any case, it's just wonderful and the home judges are already clamoring for a repeat performance.
So if you're short on willpower, watch out, because this blueberry beauty is dangerous!! I speak from experience and am penitently eating cut-up veggies sans dip all week!!
Dangerously Good Blueberry Bread
Makes one 9-inch x 3-inch loaf
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes; Bake Time: 60-70 minutes
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting the parchment paper
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 cup chopped walnuts
Demerera sugar (sanding sugar) for sprinkling on top
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper with the nonstick spray. Dust the sides and bottom of the pan with flour and shake out the excess. Set aside.
2. Place the berries in a medium bowl and remove one tablespoon of the 2 cups of flour and toss the berries with it. Set aside.
3. Into a large mixing bowl, sift the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, mix the butter on low speed for about 1 minute to break it up. Then add the granulated and brown sugar and cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides to remove any lumps. Turn the mixture to low speed and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl and bearing on low for about 30 seconds for each addition. Add in the zest and vanilla and beat well together.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and the milk in alternating thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until smooth but don't overdo it.
6. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the berries and nuts. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.
7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center, comes out clean. If it looks like the loaf is getting too dark around the 50 minute mark, loosely cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. When done, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then turn the loaf out onto the rack to finish cooling completely, top side up.
8. This is best eaten on the day it's made but if you like you can make it one day ahead, let it cool completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Note: Recipe adapted from Sweet Mornings by Patty Pinner. I omitted the ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and increased the amount of walnuts.