Lately, I have had my eye on the pantry. I am probably about to state the obvious but this time of year the fresh produce offerings are lackluster — to say the least. When Friday rolled around I had big plans to make some quince jam thumbprint cookies from this fabulous little cookbook but a quick chat with the produce man left me with flushed cheeks and a shrug. Here I thought that winter was quince season in Northern California, but those babies were gone and done by November! Whoops. It is not as if my bookshelf and the cavernous Internet leave me wanting for inspiration, but it seemed no other recipe idea lived up to the potential of those adorable little quince cookies. Heck, there was no way those cookies were going to be mine this weekend; they weren’t going to be mine until next fall. I am learning how to let go. Slowly.
So that brings me back to the pantry: that wonderful place where foodstuffs can live for years (or so it would seem) and never spoil! go rancid! go out of season! Preserved jams, jellies and marmalades — you are my new favorite thing! Pantry staples of flour and sugar — thank you for being your perfect little selves 365 days a year.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to a homemade bread recipe that can be made entirely out of things found in my kitchen cabinets (and my guess you have all of the ingredients in your cabinet, too). Peanut butter and jelly bread tastes exactly like you think it will, but keeps things a bit more interesting by using whole peanuts and a dense, chewy crumb to improve the texture. This recipe follows the technique introduced to the world a few years ago via the Mark Bittman’s New York Times’ The Minimalist column about the Sullivan Street baker Jim Lahey’s unconventional method for making bread at home. In order to develop outstanding flavor, the dough is left to rise for a long time, 12-18 hours, but there is no need to knead*. I the case of the peanut butter and jelly version of Lahey’s bread recipe, the dough is shaped into a rectangle after the first long rise, spread with jelly, and rolled into a cylinder. The dough roll rests and rises in the pan for another hour or so, sprinkled with some peanuts and baked. Wafts of peanut and warm sugar fill the kitchen as the bread bakes and cools. If you are at all like me this afternoon self restraint will fail you and you will never make it through the proper cooling period.
*Bread making puns — who am I?
peanut butter and jelly bread
adapted from My Bread: The Revolutionary No Work, No Knead Method
yields 1 8-inch loaf
1 large egg, beaten
2c plus 2T (280g) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2T (20g) whole wheat flour
3/4t table salt
1/4t instant or other active dry yeast
1c plus 2T (260g) cool (55-60 degrees) water
3T (50g) unsalted smooth peanut butter
1/4c (35g) unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, whole
1/4c (35g) unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/3c (100g) seedless fruit jam, any flavor
nonstick cooking spray
Save and set aside 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg for an egg wash. In a large bowl stir together the flours, salt, yeast, and the remaining egg. In a blender, blend the water and peanut butter until smooth. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and using a wooden spoon stir until combined. Stir in the whole peanuts until evenly distributed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 12 hours until the top of the dough is covered with bubbles and has more than doubled in size.
When the first rise is complete, heavily dust your work surface with flour. Using a rubber spatula, scrape all of the dough out of the bowl and onto the work surface. Flour your hands and gently pat and shape the dough into a rectangle 8-inches by 12-inches with the short side in front of you.
Spoon and spread the jam on top of the dough rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border around all 4 edges. Flour your hands again and using a bench scraper, bring up one edge of the short end of the dough and fold over by one third (imagine you are folding a business letter). After the first fold, roll the dough toward the end and form a cylinder. Make sure the seam is on the bottom and tuck the two sides underneath to create more of a seal.**
Prepare the loaf pan by spraying the inside thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom with half of the chopped peanuts. Place the rolled dough seam side down in the loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining chopped peanuts over the top. Cover the pan with a cloth and let rise for one hour. To check if the dough has risen enough, stick two fingers into the dough. If the dough holds the impression, it is finished rising. If the dough bounces back, cover and let rise for an additional 15 minutes.
About 15 minutes before the end of the final rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and position the rack in the center of the oven.
Brush the top of the dough with the reserved egg. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden. If the peanuts start to darken too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Once the loaf is out of the oven, invert onto a cooling rack and remove from the pan. Set the pan aside and flip the loaf right side up to cool completely (the longer you leave the loaf in the pan, the more soggy it will become — so act fast).
**To put it mildly, I found the rolling part of this recipe to be a precarious exercise. After trying the loaf a second time I found it helpful to use the exact amount of jam or less (I didn’t measure the first time and extra jam squirted out the sides), to use plenty of flour to prevent the dough sticking to the counter and your hands and to have two big spatulas ready (and floured) to hoist the rolled loaf from the counter and into the prepared pan. Do as I say, not as I do: make every effort not to let the jelly spill onto the pan itself. Burnt jelly = burnt sugar. No one wants that.