Lemon Blueberry Bread

THERE’S SOMETHING about summertime in Texas that just screams “lemons!”  Maybe it’s the quality of light or the fact that sunset isn’t until well past 8pm these days, leaving the days bright and crisp far beyond what they ought to have rights to.  The wash of light that comes into our kitchen nook at 6pm is so beautiful, so joyful that I keep thinking about lemons, and lemonade, and lemon zest, and lemon bars, and and and.

I’ve been inspired by the blueberry supply at HEB — the blueberries are small and rich, and they look so wholesome arranged next to a lemon or two.  So, after getting my library card from the local public library (which involved, somehow, getting dragged into a conversation with a 50-something-year-old patron about how I look just like his dead sister Esther), I came home with no plans beyond tea, a game of Scrabble, and a spot of baking.  And nothing, of course, would do but to use the blueberries at the back of the fridge (they’re hidden behind strawberries and raspberries) and see if I couldn’t pair them with something suitably lemony.

After making The Homesick Texan’s grapefruit and pecan sheet cake with D last month, I’ve been dying to use more citrus zest.  So there’s a splash of lemon peel in this.  I’d say feel free to bump it up if you choose, or even add nuts — but this simple bread is pretty prime all by itself, and it tastes just like the light looks right now: golden and spry and full of promise.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F; grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into the egg mixture alternately with the milk.  Beat well after each addition to ensure a good mix.  Fold in the lemon peel and blueberries.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before transferring out of the pan.

Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the warm bread.  Let the bread cool completely (which also allows the glaze to soak in a little) before serving.




Agave Beer Bread: the one-hour wonder

DARLINGS, the snowpocalypse has arrived!  We’re in blizzard #3 of this winter, and it is magnificent outside!  The city is hymn-like in its hushed reverence.  The building across from me has grown icicles, dropped those icicles, and is reforming a few new ones.  Parking lots are meccas for snow angels.  Trees have become snowbound free-standing art installations.

Days like this were made for blanket-bound havens, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, good music, and board games.  Days like this were made for warm laughter and warmer bread.

My go-to bread, regardless of weather, is beer bread.  It doesn’t need time to rise; it doesn’t need to be kneaded; it doesn’t need to be babysat through an afternoon.  No starter, no timers, no cheesecloth.  And the whole loaf takes only one hour to make, which gives you time to construct a blanket fortress or call up the gang and organize a snowed-in Scrabble extravaganza.  Or whatever.

Ever since I stumbled upon this amazing concoction, it has become a firm staple in my life.  And the lives of my friends, as I keep pressing variations upon them.  And each one — from a VT wheat beer, to a heavy Guinness, to a nice PA lager, to the burble of Three Philosophers — has been better than the last.  This is the bread that keeps giving.

Agave Beer Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp agave (or honey)
  • 1 bottle beer (12 oz)
  • 4 tbsp melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease your loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the beer and agave.

Pour half of the melted butter into the loaf pan.  Spoon batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown (or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean).

Let cool, and serve!

There are plenty of cheeses you could pair with this, or  you can just slather it with butter/jam.  It’s an amazing winter treat, a good bread to (always) have handy, and a good way to use up those extra bottles of beer leftover after a party.  Oh, and it’s pretty much foolproof!