Aahh, it's here. The long awaited and anticipated blueberry season. Living in New England, these are the days I long for during those cold, cruel, winter months. Sometime in February when I am scraping the ice from my car and haven't seen the sun in days, I dream of a day like today. It's Saturday morning. With my dog in tow, iced tea in the cup holder, and windows down, I drive to the farm. I drive along route one, pass the old historic homes, and reach open fields. Today is the day I will pick my own blueberries. I've been eyeing those little bushes for a few weeks now, watching the shade of berries change from green, to lavender, to bright blue. It's such a short but sweet season. I come across clusters of these hidden jewels, sitting in the sun, so ripe they may just fall right from the bush. I walk along row after row, tasting a few blueberries along the way. They look too good to pass up. My dog finds a few berry casualties along the way as well.
I knew exactly what I wanted to make with these little blue gems. I have been dreaming about a blueberry bread pudding for weeks now. Since starting this blog, I've kept a notebook full of ideas. Right at the top is listed 'write blueberry buttermilk bread pudding recipe'. There are asterisks on either side, it's highlighted in neon yellow and has the notation, 'July.' And here we are. I've never even had a blueberry bread pudding before, but knew I needed to create one. Bread pudding evolved out of a use for stale bread. It was a poor man's dessert so to speak. How ironic, since I felt like a queen devouring this one. It's so simple. Milk and eggs create a custard for the bread to take a little dunk in. They all soak together for a bit. Some lemon zest, brown sugar, and vanilla join them. My just picked blueberries are combined and poured into a pan and cooked low and slow. I can't help but turn my oven light on and peak from time to time. The butter bubbles along the sides of the pan and the piques of the bread start to become crusty. The bread pudding is the perfect consistency in my opinion; just custardy enough and moist in the middle.
The sauce hit me as I was watching the dessert cook. With an extra pint of blueberries on hand, I wanted to create something to spoon over each serving. However, I didn't want it to be too sweet and overtake the dessert. This blueberry sauce hits just the right notes of sweet and tart. It's the most beautiful deep purple tone. It was just what each little square needed. The blueberries take center stage all around here. I was so happy with the way it turned out, I drove a few of these slices over to my dad's office on my way to work. I hear it was a hit. Thanks to those there who have been following this little blog of mine. If you make it on your own, let me know how it turns out. I think I'll be revisiting this one again. Sometime this winter, maybe in February, I'll also be remembering this day of blueberry bliss and waiting for it to arrive again.
~Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding Recipe~
8 (1/2") slices of whole wheat artisan bread, cut into cubes
3 cups buttermilk
4 organic eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350. Slice and cube bread. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add cubes of bread and give it a good dunk, submerging in the liquid. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Grease a 13x9 inch pan with butter. After the 30 minutes, add blueberries, using your hands to combine. Pour into pan. Bake for 60 minutes.
While the bread pudding is baking, you can get started on the blueberry sauce.
~Blueberry Sauce Recipe~
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest.
Rinse your blueberries under running water. Don't worry about rinsing too well. Add these to a small saucepan with honey, lemon juice, and zest. Bring up to a boil and let the berries burst and fall apart. Their juices will release and give off a good amount of liquid. Let it bubble for about 3-4 minutes, and then simmer for 5 more. You will get about 1 cup of sauce.
Once you remove the bread pudding, let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. Cut into large squares and remove with a small spatula. Ladle blueberry sauce onto each slice. Serves 6-8. (Note-I like this best served at room temperature.)