Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Flavor memories

Blueberry bread was one of my favorite cakes of childhood. My Aunt Ann was the first to discover this recipe, but had shared it with my mother long before I came along. My mother would make it in the summer with my Uncle Jimmy’s fresh blueberries; in good years, she would freeze the overflow in bags and make this in the depths of winter. The blueberries scattered through the cake tasted like a burst of August, even on the most frigid February Sunday.

Blueberry bread

aka Aunt Ann’s Prize Coffee Cake
We always referred to this as 'cake', and it wasn't until I baked this to bring as a hostess gift that I heard it referred to as ‘bread’. My hosts toasted and buttered it for breakfast—another revelation to me. To this day, whenever anyone refers to ‘quick bread’, this is what I think of first. The recipe below is exactly as transcribed into my recipe notebook from one of my mother’s index cards more years ago than I can remember.

1. Mix:
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup shortening*
- 1 egg

2. Stir in:
- ½ cup milk**

3. Sift and stir in:
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt

If adding blueberries:
- ½ cup flour extra
- 2 cups blueberries
- juice & zest of 1 lime

(If adding cranberries:
- 1-1½ cups cranberries
- ½-1 cup orange juice)

Top with cinnamon sugar. Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan at 375F for 20-35 minutes.

Makes 1 loaf.

* Nowadays I substitute the same amount of unsalted butter.
** Sometimes I replace half the milk with plain yogurt; this makes for a denser, moister cake.


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