Sep 15, 2010

Lies. Lies, I Tell Ya!

When I was growing up, back to school ads went something like this:

A yellow school bus slapped onto a background of trees filled with orange, brown, and rust colored leaves.

A little blond girl-child skips out the front door, her hair picked up by a cool breeze.  Honey-colored hair against a sky so blue and clear it hurts.  A cold front has passed and you can smell it in the air.  She wears perfect new Mary Janes (on sale now!  $14.99), heavy, dark colored tights (the latest in back to school fashion!), a heavy denim skirt ($29.99 until supplies last), and a sweater vest or cardigan or pea coat (complete your "look" without looking like a dink).

Oh, and there were apples.  Definitely apples.

These were all lies!  Lies, I tell ya!  

At least around here.

The only thing these ads got right for my neck of the woods was the brown leaves.  And they aren't brown and crunchy due to the onset of fall.  No... 
this is a casualty of another summer.  A summer that's done a really good job.

And we certainly didn't buy those advertised back to school outfits.
Ok, fine.  I went to Catholic school from K-8th grade, wore a uniform, and didn't need a back to school wardrobe.  But if I had needed non-uniform clothes, I would have wanted shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. 

There were no apples.  They don't grow well in S LA.  I mean, it's possible.  But it's usually not worth the trouble.

As a kid, I always felt confused by this idyllic September setting.  Maybe even left out and jealous.  We never skipped out of the front door on our way to school.  We rushed from one air conditioned space to another hoping the hot damp air wouldn't have a chance to slap us around.

Humidity is a total buzzkill. 

While other people are welcoming pumpkins and apples, I'm still stuck on okra and cucumbers.  And blueberries.

So instead of the apple crisps or pumpkin muffins that are about to come into fashion, I'm offering something that's sooo last summer: blueberry focaccia.  This recipe is from Woman's Day magazine (July 2009).  It's advertised as a dessert, but we like it more for breakfast or brunch.

And you want some.  You know ya do.  I mean, just look at it!
blueberry focaccia

While eating a piece, The Boy said, "This tastes like Mardi Gras."
And guess what?
He's right.
Because this tastes much like King Cake
(it really is a brioche dough, after all).
But it's easier to make. me an idea for this year's homemade King cake.
Blueberry filled.
Oooooh, yeah.

We like this a lot.  Mainly because it's bread.
The inner berries cook down and get jammy-like.
So it's like eating jam and bread.
The berries on top still have enough structure to burst open when you bite into them.
So it's like eating...well, I don't know what.
But talk about good!  Oh my.

Mise en place for Blueberry Focaccia:
it's amazing to me that such fabulousness can come from such simple things
sugar, lemon zest, flour, yeast, salt, milk, butter, egg, butter, blueberries

The first step is to make some lemon sugar.  Just pulse the sugar and lemon zest together and that's it.

* The dry ingredients are whisked together first.
Because this recipe uses rapid rise yeast, proofing is not needed; just add the yeast directly to the flour

* Then the butter, egg, and warm milk are mixed in until a sticky dough forms

*After that, it's best to switch to your hands rather than sacrifice your utensils.  Knead in more flour until the dough is smooth.  I never have to use the entire 3 1/2 cups called for.

*Cover the dough and let it rest for about 10 minutes
I like to keep the mess contained as much as possible.  Later, I'll have to pat the dough out on my counter and clean up after that.  But for now I just knead the dough in a very large bowl. 
If I'm lucky, I'll only have to wipe down the counter once.

After the dough rests, divide it in half.
Pat one half out on a lightly floured surface.

You'll want to form a 12" long rectangle. 
Or at least give that impression.

Do the same with the other dough half.

Scatter half the blueberries and half of the remaining lemon sugar on one dough half.
That's a lot of halves. 
Gosh, I hope you're good with fractions.
Top with the other dough half and seal by pinching.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Did you notice my mistake?
Huh?  Didya?
I should have done this on my baking pan.
Because now I have to do some crazy transfer that requires more hands than I currently have.

At least I realized what I should have done before putting the berries on top.

After rising, dip your finger tips in a little flour and make some cute lil dimples all over.
Then scatter the remaining blueberries and lemon sugar over the top.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Then I'd recommend a powdered sugar glaze.
Don't get me wrong, this is good without it.
But why settle for good when you can have excellent?

This is being linked to:

What's On the Menu Wednesday

Also linking with Comfy Cuisine's Blueberry Overload

Comfy Cuisine

Let's Break Bread Together@ Wit, Wok and Wisdom

Thursday Tip Day
My tips are for rising yeast dough.  When I lived in a colder area I had a tough time getting my dough to rise in the winter.  Now I have a tough time getting dough to rise in the summer because of the AC.
But I've found some secret rising places...
On top of the refrigerator--tends to be warmer up there.
On top of the dryer while drying a load of clothes--also pretty darn warm.
Inside the dryer after drying a load of clothes--minus the clothes, of course.  Oh, and with a note on the dryer.
Just trust me.

Printer friendly version

Blueberry Focaccia
from Woman's day magazine, July 2009

1⁄2 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
3 to 31⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 packet rapid-rise active dry yeast
3⁄4 tsp salt
1 1⁄4 cups milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1⁄2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 ½-2 cups blueberries

1.  Pulse sugar and lemon zest in food processor until zest is finely ground and incorporated into the sugar. In a large bowl, whisk 1⁄3 cup of the lemon sugar, 3 cups of the flour, the yeast and salt until blended.

2.  Heat milk in a 2-cup measure in microwave on high 11⁄2 minutes, or until temperature registers 130°F on an instant-read thermometer; add to flour mixture with egg and butter. Mix with a rubber spatula until a soft, sticky dough forms; scrape dough onto a floured surface. Using a dough scraper to assist, knead with some of the remaining 1⁄2 cup flour to form a smooth and pliable dough, about 2 minutes. Cover the dough with the mixing bowl; let rest 10 minutes.

3.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, stretch and pat out on parchment into a 12-in. free-form rectangle, about 1⁄4 in. thick. Scatter with half the blueberries and half of the remaining lemon sugar. On floured surface, pat out and stretch remaining dough slightly larger than the first piece and place over bottom dough. Press edges together and tuck under the loaf. Cover with a sheet of greased plastic wrap. Place baking sheet in a warm area. Let rise 1 hour.

4.  Heat oven to 350°F. With floured fingers, dimple surface of loaf (pierce any bubbling with a knife tip to release air pockets). Scatter top of loaf with remaining blueberries and lemon sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Slide focaccia onto a wire rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.Michelle’s notes:* This would be even better w/ a powdered sugar glaze/icing* I often make the dough step 2 and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temp the next day and proceeded with steps 3-4.

For the glaze: 
Mix 1/2 tsp vanilla with 1 Tbsp milk and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add more milk or powdered sugar to adjust the consistency as needed


  1. I will have to try this, and because I also live in south Louisiana I don't have till wait till next summer to make it. I though can't wait for some good gumbo weather.

  2. Ahhh...gumbo weather. Can't wait. I know some people say, well just turn down the AC and make your gumbo. But it's not the same!

  3. You have me laughing. Even tho I grew up in the middle of apple orchards (which are now housing developments) it was still hot, and even if I did get that new wool sweater and skirt set, I SWEATED all day long in an un-airconditioned school room.

    love your recipe too!

  4. Thanks for linking to Tip Day Thursday at Around My Family Table. Blueberries and Focaccia...two of my favs that I never would have thought to put together! YUM!!!

  5. I couldn't find an email so I hope you don't mind my sending this thru a comment
    Dear MM I've enjoyed your blog and I wanted to present you with the One Lovely Blog Award that was kindly sent to me. I hope you accept this gift and display it proudly on your Blog. The rules are simple and you can find your award on my food blog listed below.

    Here are the rules for passing it on:

    1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. (thanks for mentioning my blog!)
    2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
    3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

    Fondly, Nanette

  6. You are killing me with this blueberry focaccia! Sounds like it could be worth a few bluish-purple stains here and there:)

    Funny how different it can be all over the states when it comes time for back to school. Growing up in northern Ohio it was a lot like the commercials you saw. The cold weather came on quick and the leaves were already falling. Apple Festivals up there are already this weekend. I'm only 5 hours south of there now and we are still having days near 100 and terrible humidity. Definitely crazy.

  7. Just stopping by to say that I gave you a blog award. Check it at Around My Family Table

    Have a great day!

  8. Nanette and Wendy, thank you both for the awards!

    Debbie & Kim, I think the differences are interesting. For some reason I'm hooked on the differences in what people eat from region to region as well as weather in those places.

  9. Oh...I want some of that!! The recipe is very similar to a scone I did, component-wise, so this has to be decadent! Yummers...!
    And I hear you about's supposed to be 100° here next week...that doesn't encourage me to bake an apple pie or roast yams...

  10. apples grow on trees? Nope, no apple trees anywhere near Miami. I'll be making ice cream all winter long.

  11. Oh my!That was an incredible recipe,dear MM!Thanks so much for linking up to my event:)



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