One of the reasons that vanilla baked goods are often thought of as being “plain” is that they lack the pops of color that you might find in other foods, like Funfetti cakes, blueberry muffins or chocolate chip cookies and quick breads. I love “plain” vanilla goodies, but I’ll admit that it is nice to get some color into your baked goods, too. Adding berries, chocolate, nuts or other elements makes cookies, cakes and other desserts look even more tempting because the flavors in them jump out at you. This Brown Butter Blueberry Apricot Loaf is a great example of a colorful baked good that delivers a lot of flavor in every bite.
Apricots and blueberries are a fruit combination that I really like and use regularly in muffins and things. They both lend beautiful colors to baked goods, of course, but the juicy blueberries make a nice contrast with chewy dried apricots in both flavor and texture, as well. This quick bread is a great option for either breakfast or for an afternoon snack and it showcases these fruits very well. The blueberries remain juicy after baking and the chopped dried apricots plum up in the oven and become both sweeter and more tender than they started out. I prefer larger chunks of apricot, but you can chop yours more finely if you prefer a wider distribution in your loaf. If you are using frozen blueberries, there is no need to defrost them before using.
The “secret weapon” in this quick bread is the browned butter that goes into the batter. Unlike the berries and apricots, it doesn’t jump out at you, but you’ll taste the nutty and addictive flavor of the browned butter in every bite. It makes the bread seem a bit richer and works very well with the apricots in particular, which have a honeyed flavor that pairs extremely well with the browned butter. Butter can be browned on the stovetop or in the microwave, just make sure that you cool it slightly before adding it to the rest of the batter.
This bread is moist, tender, and it keeps extremely well when stored in an airtight container. You’ll be able to enjoy fresh-tasting slices for several days after baking. If you don’t think you will go through it that quickly, you can also individually wrap slices and pop them in the freezer for another day.
Brown Butter Blueberry Apricot Loaf
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
3/4 cup chopped, dried apricots
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch baking pan.
In a small saucepan or a large microwave-safe bowl, cook the butter until browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg until well-combined. Add in cooled, browned butter and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in remaining flour mixture and whisk until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Fold in blueberries and dried apricots until well-distributed (*Toss blueberries and apricots in 2 tsp of flour to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf during baking). Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp coarse sugar.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 1 loaf.