Lemon Blueberry Quick Bread…

My husband has an insatiable sweet tooth and lucky for him he can eat sweets and stay thin. So I’m always looking to make something for him, and there are times I just don’t want a lot of fuss getting it done. When that happens, this recipe allows me to make him something fresh without a lot of work on my part. And oh, did I happen to mention – it tastes divine!

I love baking with blueberries. When they get hot enough they burst and release sweet juices into whatever it is you’re making. This particular quick bread is loaded with them and when you add the lemon zest to the batter and frost it with lemon glaze, the combination of flavors are to die for.

So not only is this a great tasting sweet loaf, it’s quick and utterly delicious. So let’s talk lemon blueberry quick bread…

Lesson Learned 1 – Be careful when baking with blueberries: Blueberries can be tricky and believe me I’ve had my failures where blueberries are concerned. You have to coat them with a small amount of flour before you put them in the batter. If you don’t they’ll all sink to the bottom of your bread and you’ll have a blueberry mess on your hands.

It’s very important that you coat with blueberries thoroughly with the amount indicated in the recipe. I’ve also made the mistake of thinking they were fully coated and pouring them into the batter only to find that there was still a bunch of flour on the bottom of the bowl. I recommend that you place your blueberries in a small cereal bowl and stir them from the bottom of the bowl up. That way you’ll know that you’re using all the flour. Check the bottom of the bowl for any residual flour. If there is some, scoop it on top of the blueberries and continue to stir until there’s no flour on the bottom of the bowl when you pour the blueberries into the batter.

This quick bread was so good I made it twice within the span of a week. The second time I tried a few tweaks and I liked the way the bread turned out even better. One of the tweaks I did was change the amount of blueberries. Originally I used 1 cup of blueberries in the recipe and the bread was loaded with blueberries. Don’t get me wrong, that was fine, but I felt the blueberries were a tad overpowering. The second time I only used 3/4 cup of blueberries and I liked that ratio of blueberries to batter much better. So I recommend using only 3/4 cup of blueberries.

Another trick I used to avoid having the blueberries sink to the bottom of the cake – once the batter was in the baking pan I used a small spoon, dipped it into the batter and scooped some of the blueberries up to the top. I went about half way down in the batter and did a few scoops to make sure all the blueberries didn’t settle in one place. Doing a few scoops with the spoon and making sure the blueberries were completely coated in the flour gave a good distribution of blueberries in the batter.

Lesson Learned 2 – High altitude baking: I live in the Denver area which is 5,000 feet above sea level. When you live in high altitude it affects your baking and you need to make adjustments in order to get your desired results. If you don’t make adjustments your cakes and sweet breads will wind up sinking in the middle with the edges being more than done. It’s frustrating. And it takes some time to get used to high altitude baking.

The main difference between high altitude and sea level baking is air pressure. The higher the altitude the lower the air pressure, and lower air pressure plays havoc with baking. The King Arthur Flour’s website has an excellent article explaining why adjustments need to be made with high altitude baking and recommended adjustments for cakes, cookies and the like. If you’re in high altitude I highly recommend you check it out. I will write out the recipe with sea level ingredients and put in parenthesis the high altitude adjustments. Keep in mind my adjustments are for 5,000 feet. If you’re at 3,000 or 7,000 the adjustments change. The article gives specific adjustments for those altitudes as well. And if you’re at sea level (which I was for many years) just follow the recipe as is. You’ve got nothing to worry about. The link to the article is directly below:

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

Other than how to work with blueberries and how to adjust for high altitude this quick bread is super simple to make and super delicious. Try it out and tell me what you think…

Lemon Blueberry Quick Bread...

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Quick Bread

1 1/2 cups flour + 1 tsp., divided

2 tsp. baking powder (1 1/2 tsp. for high altitude)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar

Zest of one medium size lemon, plus the juice for the glaze (see below)

3/4 cup whole milk (+ 1 Tbs. for high altitude)

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp. canola oil

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Baking spray

Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar

1-2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 (365 for high altitude).

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the egg, milk and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Use the remaining teaspoon of flour and coat the blueberries with the flour. Add the blueberries to the batter and gently fold them in.

Coat an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with baking spray. (I used the one that also includes flour). Pour the batter into the pan. Place a small spoon into the batter (about half way down) and scoop some of the blueberries up to the top. (repeat this two or three times).

Bake for 40-50 minutes (mine was done in 40 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven. Move a rounded edged knife along all sides of the pan. Let the pan cool for 15 minutes, then remove the quick bread from the pan and let it continue to cool.

Once the bread is completely cooled mix together the glaze ingredients. Start with 1 Tbs. lemon juice and add more to achieve your desired thickness (I used 2 Tbs.). Drizzle the glaze over the top of the bread before serving. Store any leftovers in an air tight container.

 

 

 

 

 

Frosted Blueberry Muffins…

This time of year brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to your table. Sometimes its hard to pass them up, especially when the prices are low and the quality is high. And because of that, sometimes I find I buy more than I can actually use. Or sometimes I’m positive I don’t have what I want at home only to find after I buy it I have more than enough in the refrigerator already.

Such was the case the other day when I looked in my refrigerator and found and I had pints of blueberries – way too much for me to use by myself before they spoiled. My solution was to make frosted blueberry muffins…

I have to say I really like this recipe. The muffins are just the right texture and the cream cheese frosting is the perfect compliment to the tart blueberries. So let’s not waste any time and start talking about blueberry muffins…

Muffin Ingredients

Lesson Learned 1 – This recipe make A LOT of muffins: If you’re making muffins for a crowd or have large family the proportions in this recipe will be perfect for you. This recipe can make anywhere from 36-40 muffins, which for me with only two people in my household, was way too much. I didn’t realize how much the recipe made until I started filling the muffin cups. OOOPS!

But the good news is you can easily cut the recipe in half and have a more manageable amount of muffins for a smaller family. Either way, they will still come out tasting delicious.

Lesson Learned 2 – This recipe would also be good using fresh cherries: I chose blueberries for this recipe because they are more readily available during the course of a year and I had some I need to use. But you could also use fresh cherries. All you would need to do is make sure the cherries are pitted and chopped. For the full recipe I would add 4 cups of cherries.

Lesson Learned 3 – I recommend frosting these muffins: The frosting is a great compliment to the tartness of the blueberries. And although you can leave them plain the frosting, in my opinion, takes them over the top.

Lesson Learned 4 – You can also make jumbo muffins: If you’re worried about the amount of muffins this recipe makes try making jumbo muffins. You can make approximately 18-24 jumbo muffins from this recipe. The only difference will be in the baking time. Bake the jumbo muffins for approximately 25-30 minutes.

Other than that this recipe is pretty standard in terms of how it is structured. As always you need to use less leavening for high altitude (cut the baking powder by 1/2 Tbs.) but other than that you mix the ingredients, fill the muffin cups three quarters full and bake.

Since I had so many of these I brought some to hour community happy hour that we have each week. People raved about them. One person told me she only took one home with her and in retrospect she wished she had taken many more. I guarantee this will be a hit when you serve it. Or better yet, just keep them to yourself as a guilty pleasure. Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins...

  • Servings: 36-40 muffins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

Muffins:

4 1/2 cups flour

2 Tbs. baking powder (1 1/2 Tbs. for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

4 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

3/4 cups milk

2 cups sour cream

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and drained

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 – 8 oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups confectioners sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. Put paper liners into the muffin tins.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk until combined. Set aside.

Put butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon zest, lemon juice, milk and sour cream into a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until blended. (You can use a hand mixer for this).

Add the dry ingredients and mix by hand until combined. Fold in the nuts and blueberries. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Let muffins cool on a rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Gradually add the sugar beating until smooth.

 

 

 

The Saga of the Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake…

Let me start off by saying that even the most proficient of cooks isn’t always successful when trying new recipes. In this blog I prefer to post my recipe successes but there have been failures along the way, more than I can count I assure you. So I thought I’d dedicate this blog to a recent failure that eventually turned to triumph.

IMG_9293The nice thing about honing your skills as a cook is that your successes come more frequently. But every once in a while an attempt at making something is botched and you recognize it’s never good to get too smug about your culinary skills. Just this past week I botched a recipe – BIG TIME – and thought I would share that escapade with you. I call it the saga of the lemon pound cake.

It all began simply enough with my usual quest for that one new recipe I would make this week. Flipping through the various posts on (you guessed it) Pinterest I came across a recipe for lemon blueberry pound cake. I already have a recipe on this site for a lemon blueberry yogurt loaf  but thought I’d try this one as I had never made a pound cake before. The recipe seemed simple enough, the only difference being that it was written to make two loafs instead of one. Great, I thought, I can have one loaf for home and give one as a gift to an unsuspecting neighbor. I liked that idea. I had to purchase some disposable foil pans as I don’t have two professional grade loaf pans. No biggie, they’re certainly cheap enough. This should be a no brainer. WRONG!!!

The blueberry disaster...

The blueberry disaster…

OMG – that’s all I can say. The end result was awful on so many levels. My husband suggested that I take a picture of the disaster and post it in the blog for all to see. So here it is to the left – can you even believe it? It looks like a blueberry explosion! Of course in the picture the cake is upside down, but right side up it was no prize either. The cake never fully cooked, the blueberries took over the entire cake and to add insult to injury they all congregated at the bottom.  On top the cake had risen onto itself and created what I call a lap over effect on the edges as can be seen in the picture below . I’m not sure what causes that but I never get that effect when I use my good loaf pan. It must have something to do with the evenness of the temperature during the cooking process and the quality of the pan.

The distorted top with the cake folding over itself on the top and bottom edges

The distorted top with the cake folding over itself on the top and bottom edges

Needless to say, it was a total disaster. I haven’t had one this bad in a long time – just enough to keep me from getting too smug regarding my baking skills. I wound up having the throw both cakes away – they just were not salvageable. So why, you might ask, would I even try this recipe again? To be honest, although it looked bad and did not cook all the way through the part that did cook actually tasted pretty good. So I thought this actually could be a keeper recipe but it definitely needed an overhaul. I guess I wanted to see if I could fix what obviously was a broken mess. So the next day I put my delicate baking ego on the line and tried my hand at making the pound cake once again.

The second time I was successful but it took some manipulation of the recipe to achieve what was intended. In deference to the author of the recipe I will not mention the site where I found it. The recipe as originally written was horrific and, regardless of altitude considerations, I find it hard to believe that the proportions as written are correct (especially where the blueberries were concerned). What I decided to do was adjust the proportions to make one pound cake instead of two. I also significantly adjusted the amount of blueberries used in the loaf and the end result is I think what the author had intended when writing the recipe. So here are my lessons learned and recipe rating.

Recipe Rating: I have two ratings for this recipe, one for the original version and one for the version I created. The original version gets an F+. Although the overall flavor combinations were very good (meriting the + in the grade) there were far too many blueberries called for in the recipe. Blueberries expand and burst during the cooking process and the original amount created a blueberry nightmare (as can be seen in the picture above). My version created a cake that was nicely integrated with blueberries but was still primarily a cake and not a blueberry compote. My version gets an A.

Lesson Learned 1 – You only get what you pay for: My advice to anyone wanting to be successful in the kitchen is to use good kitchen equipment. From pots and pans to knives to baking sheets and loaf pans, I can tell you from experience you only get what you pay for. Professional grade equipment consistently produces professional results. My professional grade loaf pan cooks cake batter evenly, does not produce a batter layover effect and generally cooks in the allotted time or slightly less than the allotted time. I don’t have to use sprays or worry about greasing and flouring the pan, the cake always comes out cleanly after it has rested for 15 minutes. Do yourself a favor and invest in good kitchen equipment, it’s worth it!

IMG_9475Lesson Learned 2 – How to bake with blueberries: As I mentioned earlier, the original recipe for this pound cake called for way too many blueberries – 3 cups for two loafs to be exact. When I was measuring it I thought it was a lot, but I know that baking requires precision in order to be successful and so I followed the recipe as written. Big mistake. The cakes became 95% blueberries and 5% cake – the blueberries just took over.

And even though I dusted the blueberries with flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake, they still did. I think the amount of blueberries contributed to that. There simply was too many of them. Just keep in mind when baking with any fruit like blueberries, you need to coat them with flour so they evenly distribute themselves and don’t all sink the the bottom of the cake. I also read that if you use frozen blueberries (which in this case I did not) and incorporate them at the very end right out of the freezer they will evenly distribute as well without the use of flour. I’ll have to try that sometime and see if it works.

In this case, the smaller amount of blueberries dusted with flour before incorporating them into the batter did the trick. In my second attempt, the blueberries evenly distributed in the pound cake. The last tip with baking with blueberries or other fruit is to make sure you add them at the very end, right before putting the batter in the pan. Fold them in gently so that they don’t burst and create a blue cake. If you follow these simple tips you will be just fine.

Lesson Learned 3 – Creaming the butter and sugar – a common baking mistake: Most people do not cream the butter and sugar when baking, they simple combine them. Creaming takes a little more time than you would think and the end result is a mixture that is light in color and very soft and fluffy. Doing creaming correctly allows for all the added ingredients to incorporate themselves more completely and also creates a fluffier, moister cake. So next time spend an extra few minutes and do the creaming process correctly.

Creaming butter and sugar should produce this consistency...

Creaming butter and sugar should produce this consistency…

Lesson Learned 4 – The glaze: I’m not a big fan of glazes. For some reason they just don’t do it for me. But I like the glaze in this recipe. It complimented the cake and did not overpower it. I also felt the use of lemon zest as well as lemon juice made the flavor richer.

Even though the initial attempt to make this cake was a disaster, the second version was a big hit. After a few days there was absolutely none left. So try my version and see what you think. You can always double it to make two loaves, but be I would be careful about doubling the amount of blueberries. I would err on the side of caution and use less instead of more. You certainly don’t want to be left with a blueberry explosion!

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:IMG_9458

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

zest of half a lemon

1 extra large egg at room temperature

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 1/4 cup flour + 1 tsp. to dust the blueberries

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

LEMON GLAZE:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. lemon zest

1 Tbs. milk

1/4 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest. (3-5 minutes). Add egg and vanilla and beat an additional minute.

In a separate bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the butter mixture. Start and end with the dry ingredients and combine each addition thoroughly. Dust the blueberries with flour. Fold them into the batter until incorporated.

Grease and flour an 8 inch loaf pan if the pan is not non-stick. Pour in batter and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (there may be some blueberry moisture on the toothpick). Let the loaf cool for 15 minutes and then remove it from the pan. Cool completely before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze: whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

Right Out Of The Oven

Right Out Of The Oven (notice no fold-overs)

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

 

 

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf…

Being forced to take it easy after spinal surgery has its advantages and disadvantages. For the life of me I never thought I would feel guilty just taking it easy. It’s made me realize that our lives are so full and programmed that once you’re forced to just relax and heal it feels very strange – and it’s also very hard.

The one could thing about my recuperation is I am relatively mobile. I have to be careful with my movement, no bending or twisting and the waist, and no lifting anything over ten pounds. But other than that my activity is based on what I think my body can tolerate and how I feel. The key is to try to continually build up my strength and activity.

And what kind of activity has in recent years become a passion of mine? Well, cooking and baking of course! So today instead of just loafing around it was time to get active and make a loaf, a lemon blueberry yogurt loaf to be exact. This recipe comes from a website called Sweet Peas in the Kitchen and I found it on Pinterest (surprise, surprise). What intrigued me about the recipe was the process for making the loaf.

Ingredients

Ingredients

The ingredients consist of all the usual suspects, flour, sugar, lemon juice and zest, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, blueberries and such. But the interesting part of making this loaf is what you do to it once it comes out of the oven. This recipe calls for making a lemon sugar syrup that you cook on the stove and brush all over the loaf after you’ve thoroughly pierced it with a toothpick. Once the syrup soaks in you continue the process again until the syrup is completely used up. The idea here is to add moisture to the inside of the loaf after it bakes. This was a new one for me. Then once the loaf is completely cooled you make a simple lemon juice and confectioners sugar glaze and drizzle it all over.  Sounded interesting, so I had to try it.

As with all recipes I get from Pinterest, once I initially try them I like to rate them and talk briefly about some lessons I learned while making them. So, first the RATING: A. I really like this recipe. It is easy and very flavorful. You know when you lick the batter and it’s yummy that you’ve got a winner on your hands. This is definitely one to put into your recipe box.

Lessons Learned: 1 : The recipe calls for fresh or frozen blueberries rinsed and coated with a little flour, a common trick to get the blueberries not to gather at the bottom of the cake while its baking. I couldn’t find fresh blueberries so I opted for frozen. Frozen ones are mushier and wetter and so next time I will use fresh blueberries. Although my blueberries did not totally sink the the bottom, they definitely showed a propensity to being there and I’m thinking fresh blueberries will be drier and because of that more evenly distribute themselves in the loaf.

Folding Blueberries Into The Batter

Folding Blueberries Into The Batter

Lesson Learned 2: I was intrigued by the process of piercing the warm loaf and brushing it with a lemon sugar syrup. I’d never heard of using this type of technique to infuse moisture into a loaf once it’s baked. I found that it does indeed add moisture but felt that using the entire amount was not necessary. The recipe calls for a mixture of 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar cooked on the stove and applied until gone. I would decrease that to 1/4 cup each and maybe even after some experimentation to 1/8 of a cup. I definitely don’ t think you need all of it, but try it and see what you think.

Loaf Basted With A Lemon Sugar Syrup

Loaf Basted With A Lemon Sugar Syrup

Lesson Learned 3: Note to self. I need to get a new loaf pan. I currently use a dark one and it tends to really cook the edges of loaves much faster than the center and so my edges tend to get very crispy before the center is completely done. I want to try either a glass or just light metal pan to see if it makes a difference. I have a feeling it will. Have you any thoughts on what works best?

All in all, as you can see by the final product below, I am very pleased with the way it turned out considering it was the first time I made it. You should add this recipe to your repertoire – it’s a keeper!

The Finished Iced Cake

The Finished Iced Cake

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

A Self-Proclaimed Pinterest Recipe Critic…

Tonight I’m getting together with a group of people, undercover foodies, to begin a conversation of how we can form a group based on cooking, learning and fun. The group already has a name – Sweet Serendipity, Supper, Sips and Such – and the name leads me to believe that the members will all be “foodie forces” unto themselves. The person who coordinated the group asked us to bring an appetizer or something sweet, preferably a recipe taken from the Pinterest site.

Now I know I’ve mentioned this before but I am a big fan of Pinterest. What I love about using Pinterest is that you are exposed to a broader segment of the internet often being introduced to interesting websites and blogs you might never have found through Google. And I love it for the wealth of cooking information and recipes that are pinned to various boards. So, needless to say, I am “on board” with the idea of this cooking group and with Pinterest.

For this evening’s cooking contribution I made a coffee cake recipe I found Pinterest. I made it on Friday but the coffee cake was such a hit that this morning I was faced with the dilemma of having only a meager amount to bring to the meeting. So, off I went back to Pinterest in search of something simple but also unique. I found what I was looking for on a website called “Pardon The Dog Hair” (a website I would never have found on my own), a recipe for Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread. The pictures of the bread looked delicious, the recipe was simple and I had most of the ingredients already so the decision to make it was easy.

The bread is made from a traditional process, combining all the dry ingredients, adding the wet ingredients and then finally folding in the blueberries and nuts.

Preparing the ingredients

Preparing the ingredients

What’s nice about this recipe is that it doesn’t use any white sugar. The sweetness comes from brown sugar, apple sauce and bananas. After you combine all the dry ingredients you whisk together the eggs, apple sauce and bananas and then combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture. Last, you carefully fold in the blueberries and the nuts and put the mixture in a prepared loaf pan.

bbo4

bbobread2

The recipe calls for baking it at 350 for one hour – that seemed like a long time to me so I started with 40 minutes and pulled the bread out of the oven at that time. As you can see the bread was already quite dark and even though it was very firm at the very very middle top it wasn’t completely done. Despite that the end result, as you can see below, was still wonderful but there definitely were some lessons learned about making this recipe.

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread

Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bread

First lesson: The next time I make this I will use a glass loaf pan. I used a dark loaf pan and I think it contributed to making the bread darker more quickly even when it was not completely done. Second lesson: If you look at the pictures of the bread from the website where the recipe was taken, it looks like the top of the bread was also dusted with quick cooking oats. I think that would offset the very dark color on top, keeping in mind that whole wheat flour is the main flour in this bread so it will naturally look darker. Third lesson: The recipe did not call for this but I dusted the pecans with just a smidge of flour. I’ve found that the nuts will more evenly disperse themselves into a mixture and not just rise to the top during the baking process when you do that.

Rating for the recipe: Between very good and excellent – if the blogger did in actuality dust the top of the bread with quick cooking oats like the pictures on the site seem to suggest, I would note that in the recipe. Taste-wise the rating is excellent, and I love the fact that this recipe is delicious without having to use white sugar. This is definitely a recipe to try. 

I have a feeling I will be trying a lot more recipes from the Pinterest site in the upcoming weeks and months. I plan to share the escapades of making and eating them on this blog. If you see a Pinterest recipe you’d like me to “test” with the group – just let me know. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably been wondering if all those recipes you see posted are really as good as they look. And if you have any experiences with Pinterest recipes, I would love to hear about them. The Pinterest test kitchen is now open for business.