The etymology of a recipe title is a sticky thing.
First, there’s this business of wanting people to understand what’s involved in the recipe instantly, in which case a descriptive name obviously gets the job done. Take All Whole Wheat Baby Blueberry Bread with Cinnamon-Walnut Streusel, for example.
Accurate? Sure. And quite often my approach. But second, there’s the importance of brevity, and simplicity. No one wants to write friends about a treat that requires an acronym in regular conversation.
“Did you make that AWWBBBCWS last night?”
I don’t think so.
The problem is, the simplest names are often misleading: Blueberry Breakfast Bread rolls off the tongue, but it wouldn’t be all that precise.
And for someone like me, someone who doesn’t like to skimp on the details, an imprecise title may take away from what’s special about a given recipe. This one is made with all white whole wheat flour, not just a touch, but it’s still remarkably light. There’s plain yogurt instead of sour cream in the batter, so it’s not as rich as coffee cake, but don’t you worry, there’s still enough fat in there to give it a good mouthfeel. And I do think two cups of your average highbush blueberry, dumped into the batter with such apparent overzealousness, could make the bread fall apart, whereas those bitty berries, from the type of low-lying blueberry bush common in the wild (or in Maine, or in this case, in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s) give the bread a good gong’s worth of bursting blueberry flavor, without sacrificing the structure of the cake itself.
Don’t even get me started on not telling you, right up front, that I could have added more sugar, but didn’t, in an attempt to bake a bread with a bit less cloying sweetness than your everyday blueberry coffee cake muffin.
Yes, all of this is downright impossible to fit into a recipe title.
So you see, simplicity has its downside, too.
Third, a good title will tell a bit of a story. Something about a person, or an event, maybe.
I made the bread last night, with just enough crunchy, sugary streusel topping to make the top of each slice interesting, and more tiny wild blueberries than I honestly meant to add. (I do believe this puts me smack-dab in the center of a sweets streak. I hope you’re right here with me.)
The batter seemed thick at first, thicker than I thought it would be. I really had to spread it into my loaf pans with a spatula, but once it rose up, crystalline and golden on top, I was happy I hadn’t added an ounce more moisture. I let it cool on the counter, and carefully tucked it into a bed of foil when all its heat had slipped back into the kitchen.
Last night, in my mind, I called it Blueberry Bread For Jim, Who Will Be Working On A Boat On Puget Sound For Ten Days Where Coffee Cake Isn’t So Convenient, So He Has Something Good To Eat For Breakfast On Valentine’s Day.
A mouthful, to say the very least. And though a story’s always nice, there’s the possibility that one’s idea of a good story-driven recipe title isn’t memorable for the reader, or that the story itself doesn’t quite work out.
This morning, for example, it was just The Blueberry Bread Jim Forgot.
Yup. It’s true. He forgot both loaves, just sailed off into the Sound without them. Now if someone had stolen them, half-eaten or even still untouched, from his desk in the lab on the boat, that would be one thing. We’d put a photograph on milk cartons, asking Have You Seen This Bread?
But they weren’t stolen. They were just forgotten.
So I guess that title is an accurate option. But who wants to bake a breakfast bread that’s forgettable?
The very best thing about recipe titles is that they’re infinitely changeable, so The Blueberry Bread Jim Forgot could undergo a bit of a titular face lift if, say, he made it for me upon returning from said commitment. Then it would be Jim’s Best Blueberry Bread (or Jim’s Only Blueberry Bread, but that’s beside the point), which implies a much more delicious reputation indeed, even though it would presumably taste the same.
But really, I couldn’t blame him. Setting out to sea with Instruments and Personnel (and oh, yes, that really fat boat they all but had to lube up to squeeze through the locks), his brain couldn’t have been focused so much on the kitchen counter. (Sigh.) So now it’s Blueberry Bread for Me To Consume Greedily In the Ten Days Surrounding Valentine’s Day.
In a matter of mere hours, it will be The Blueberry Bread That Won’t Stop Nagging Me All The Way From The Other Room.
But neither of those are really memorable titles, and a name that sticks is equally important.
And there we are, friends. Right back at square one.
You may call it whatever you choose. I call it breakfast every day for a week.
Almost Unforgettable Whole Wheat Blueberry Bread (PDF)
When I make a conscious attempt to make a slightly healthier version of a typically unhealthy thing, there’s always the devil beside one ear, saying things like, “No sour cream? Good luck, honey.” Here’s one to prove him (or wait, I think it’s a her) wrong: Made with nonfat yogurt and all whole wheat flour, and packed with antioxidant-rich blueberries and flaxseed meal, you could almost call this bread nutritional. Seriously. Like a vitamin. Take two slices and call me in the morning.
Wait, did I mention that it’s topped with coffee cake-style walnut streusel?
TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: Two 8 1/2” by 4” loaves
Baking spray or vegetable oil spray
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups plain nonfat yogurt
2 cups frozen wild (small) blueberries*, or fresh, if in season
*Note: To avoid too much streaking, be sure to keep the blueberries frozen until right before you add them to the batter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 1/2” by 4” loaf pans with the spray, and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of the regular sugar together to blend, and set aside to use as a topping.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt to blend, and set aside.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, and mix on low to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the yogurt, and beat until almost smooth. Add all but about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing on low just until no white streaks of flour remain. Add the frozen blueberries to the remaining flour, toss to coat the berries, and gently fold the berries into the batter by hand with a plastic spatula. (The batter will be thick.)
Divide the batter between the greased loaf pans (if you have a scale, it should be about 1 1/2 pounds of batter per pan), spread it into the bottom of the pans, sprinkle the topping (generously) over the batter, and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
Let the bread cool 30 minutes in pans, then transfer to racks to cool completely before wrapping. Store cooled bread wrapped in foil at room temperature, up to 3 days, or refrigerated up to one week.