The Classics – Sandwich Bread & PB&J

As far back as I can remember I’ve been watching raindrops collect and fall, splash and splatter, appear and disappear, moving in some unrecognizable pattern as they slide down a soaked window.

It doesn’t matter how down I may feel, what despair I may find myself in or what has gone awry. This dance, so mundane, so typical and constant, so expected and so normal, always brings a smile to my face. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the moments I could get lost in storm watching through these rain-dusted windows as a kid.

Perhaps it’s because I can still sit at the feet of the rivers of light  pouring through the rain and feel the warmth tickle my skin. Maybe it’s because the things we often ignore are beautiful, the most beautiful things around us. And they just slip by all too often.

I can stare past these clinging raindrops at 26 and suddenly hear my brother asking if I’m coming out to play, my father asking if I’ve finished my homework, or mom calling me to grab my PB&J for lunch. Even now I can hear the judgmental questioning of my family and friends and him. Why are you just standing there? What are you looking at? What are you waiting for?

Yet here I still stand today, staring at the raindrops. I can’t move. I just stare and watch. I’m lost for a moment in this simple sight. It’s like being in a dream. A dream where your feet are cemented to the earth.

And then seconds or minutes or some amount of time I haven’t counted go by and the raindrops fade and evaporate into nothingness.  The dance just stops.

For just a moment I was transported back to the most comfortable place on earth – my childhood. Finding that moment, that key that can take you back is invigorating. It’s worth every ounce of chase we put into it.

There have been few foods that have had such a lasting presence in my life like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or in this case the pecan butter and jelly sandwich). The seductively sweet treat that is packed with protein and nutrients – ok and also packed with sugar and fat – is always making a lunchtime appearance with me. And while the nut butter and jam or jelly you choose can make a huge difference, the most important aspect for me is the sandwich loaf.

Sandwich bread:  Without a good loaf of sandwich bread most of your lunches will be lost, including the famous PB&J. Making it at home is not only easy (at least on the scale of yeast bread difficulty) but it yields a product that in my opinion is much tastier than any store bought loaf – not to mention it’s missing all those preservatives and other junk processed foods seem to be full of. My sandwich loaf contains a mixture of bread flour and whole wheat flour. The whole wheat flour gives this bread a delicious, nutty flavor – plain white bread is a bit bland for my liking.

As with any yeast dough, be sure to pay attention to the times in this recipe, and don’t rush any step. Waiting until something has doubled in volume means just not that – “close enough” is never a good idea in making bread. The same goes for temperatures. Yeast can be temperamental so it is best to stick to the recipe.

Sponge: This dough calls for making a sponge (a portion of the dough left to ferment) to be refrigerated for a 24 hour fermenting period – yes that’s right a full day. Leaving a sponge to ferment for a period of time gives the bread more flavor. For a sandwich loaf that contains minimal flavor-adding ingredients, this extra flavor is essential. You’ll thank me after spending two days on this bread. If you don’t have a full 24 hours don’t worry, you can ferment a dough for as little as just four hours – though the yeasty bread flavor will not be as pronounced. For ease of reading, the sponge ingredients are separated from the remaining bread ingredients.


Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

[tabs tab1=”Information” tab2=”Yield” tab3=”Difficulty” tab4=”Time” tab5=”Serving Suggestions”] [tab id=1] Pay attention to ingredient, rising/proofing and baking temperatures. Pay attention to rising/proofing, baking and cooling times.

This recipe can act as the base for many loaf breads. Try adding your favorite spices, herbs, or nuts to the dough.

[/tab] [tab id=2]This recipe yields 1 sandwich loaf (9×4″).[/tab] [tab id=3]This recipe is intermediate. See the recipe difficulty key for more information.[/tab] [tab id=4]This recipe will take 7 hours plus up to 24 hours for fermenting.

Sponge: 4-24 hours
First Rise: 2 hours
Second Rise: 2 hours
Final Proof:  1-2 hours
Baking: 50-60 minutes

[/tab] [tab id=5]Store at room temperature in an air-tight container. This loaf should last 3-4 days. Never refrigerate bread. To store longer, freeze the baked loaf, wrapped in an airtight container, for up to a couple months. [/tab] [/tabs]


Stand mixer and dough hook
Proofing tub or Large bowl
Rolling pin
9″ loaf pan
Cast iron skillet or heavy-duty pan (optional)

Sponge Ingredients:

8 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon active yeast
2 ounces honey
4 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour

Remaining Dough Ingredients:

4 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon active yeast
2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt


1. Heat the milk to the scalding point (at least to 150°F). Set aside to cool to 110°F. Oil or butter the proofing tub or large bowl and set aside.

2. In  proofing tub or large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (105-115°F). Add the remaining sponge ingredients. Mix well until the sponge is homogenous. Cover the container and let ferment for 4 to 24 hours in the fridge. Remove the sponge from the fridge for the last 2 or 3 hours to bring it to room temperature.

Note: You can skip the fermenting time if you’d like and go straight to mixing the dough. The longer your ferment the dough, the more flavor the bread will have.

3. After the sponge has fermented, remove the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the remaining  dough ingredients. Knead the dough for 7 to 10 minutes (at medium-low speed; 3 or 4 on a KitchenAid) until the dough is smooth but still a bit tacky to the touch.

Tip: Test the dough by stretching a portion of it out. It should remain intact and become translucent before breaking or tearing.

4. Oil or butter the proofing tub again. Place the dough in the tub, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume, ideally in an area of the house free of drafts and around 90°F. This should take around 2 hours.

 Tip: If your house is an ice box, preheat the oven at 400°F for 1 minute – no longer. Turn the oven off after a minute – the inside of the oven should now feel just barely warm. Allow the dough to rise in the warm oven with the door closed.

5. Once the dough has doubled in volume, punch down the dough and knead it with your hands for a few seconds. Place the dough back in the tub and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in volume again. This will take about 2 hours.

6. Once the dough has doubled in volume again, punch down the dough and knead it gently for a few seconds with your hand. Let it rest, covered, for 20 minutes.

7. After the dough has rested, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12×9″ on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough lengthwise, like your would a letter, folding the right third towards the center, then the left third to the center over the right third. Pinch the two ends to seal them together.  Roll the folded 9×4″ length of dough into a cylinder, stretching the dough slightly and pressing it firmly as you roll. The idea here is to roll the loaf as tightly as possible. Once the dough is rolled up, pinch any loose flaps together to keep them from pulling apart. The dough should be about as long as the loaf pan.

8. Lightly butter the loaf pan. Place the rolled dough into the loaf pan, cover, and let rise until a little less than doubled in volume. The top of the loaf should be about 1″ above the loaf pan.

9. In the meantime, place a cast iron skillet at the very bottom of the oven and have a wrack at the lowest possible position above the skillet (optional). Preheat the oven to 325°F. You should preheat the oven at least an hour before baking.

10. Place the loaf pan in the oven on the bottom rack and immediate throw a handfull of ice into the cast iron skillet. Shut the door immediately.

Note: This ice or steaming step creates a quick burst of steam in the oven which helps give the bread a fluffy interior and crispy crust.

11. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds slightly hollow if you knock on it.

12. Remove from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack until completely cooled.

Note: The cooling process is a vital part of bread baking. Cutting into the dough before it has cooled can reduce the crumb quality.


Nut Butter: Homemade nut butters are one of the easiest spreads to make on your own – assuming you have a food processor that can handle the task. Most nuts are high in natural fats and oils (pecans, walnuts) and don’t require any other ingredients. Other nuts lower in fats and oils may require a little oil or extra fat to give a good texture. The longer you leave the food processor running, the creamier the nut butter will become. I like roasting the nuts before hand as it increases the flavor and can help release some of the oils in the nut.



Pecan Butter

[tabs tab1=”Information” tab2=”Yield” tab3=”Difficulty” tab4=”Time” tab5=”Serving Suggestions”] [tab id=1]Choose any nut you like for this recipe. This recipe requires a food processor. This recipe can act as the base for just about any type of nut butter. Some may require the addition of oil. If so add no more than a few tablespoons of oil made from the nut you are processing. [/tab] [tab id=2]This recipe yields 20 ounces of nut butter.[/tab] [tab id=3]This recipe is easy. See the recipe difficulty key for more information.[/tab] [tab id=4]This recipe will take 20 minutes [/tab] [tab id=5]Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last up to a month, depending on the variety of nut.  [/tab] [/tabs]


Baking sheet
Food processor
20 ounce jar


1 pound pecans (or any nut of your choice)


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Arrange the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast int he oven for 5 to 10 minutes, taking care not to let them burn or brown.

3. Place the nuts in a food processor. Run the food processor constantly at it’s highest speed, scraping down the sides occasionally if necessary, until the nuts turn into a chunky or creamy consistently.

4. Pour the mixture into an airtight container.

5. Once doubled in volume, punch down the dough and knead it with your hands for a few seconds. Place the dough back in the tub and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in volume again. This will take about 2 hours.


Jams, Jellies and Preserves: Jams, jellies and preserves, while simple, are a bit tricker than making nut butter. The only difficult part is knowing how long to boil it. Fruits all have different amounts of pectin (a naturally occuring substance that gives fruit their ability to thicken or jam up as they are cooked). Certain fruits like grapes may require 35 minutes of boiling while blueberries only 10 minutes. Since lemons are high in pectin, I suggest adding a tablespoon or two lemon juice to help the process along.

Canning: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a tiny bit afraid of canning. So when I make jam I only make a jar or two at a time – just enough that will keep in the fridge for a week or two. If you want to can or jar your jam, this recipe scales easily. I’ve always found the ratio of 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar plus a tablespoon of lemon juice to work well. If you do jar your jam, follow the instructions on the jars or jamming kit.


Strawberry Jam ab

[tabs tab1=”Information” tab2=”Yield” tab3=”Difficulty” tab4=”Time” tab5=”Serving Suggestions”] [tab id=1]Choose any fruit you’d like. Be careful though as the boiling times will change.

This recipe can act as the base for many different jams, jellies or preserves.[/tab] [tab id=2]This recipe yields 20 ounces of jam.[/tab] [tab id=3]This recipe is easy. See the recipe difficulty key for more information.[/tab] [tab id=4]This recipe will take 20 minutes [/tab] [tab id=5]Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. It should last 1 to 2 weeks..  [/tab] [/tabs]

1 hour


Heavy bottomed pot
Wooden spoon
20 ounce jar


1 pound strawberries
8 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Remove the tops of the strawberries. Cut them into halves or quarters depending on the size of strawberry chunks you want.

2. Put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy bottom pot. Mash half of the strawberries, leaving the other half in quarters or halves. If you want jelly, mash or blend all of the fruit. 

3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and boil until thick enough to coat a spoon. This will take about 15 to 25 minutes depending on the moisture content in the strawberries and the heat.

4. Pour into a jar and let cool completely in the fridge.

Testing Jam Consistency: I like to keep a baking sheet in the freezer while boiling jam. When the jam is thick and coats a spoon, place a little jam on the sheet and place back in the freezer for a minute or two. Remove and check the consistency. The jam should feel cool or cold. If it is thick like jam, it’s ready to go. If it’s still thin, leave it boil a little longer. 



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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Food nerd. Cookbook author. Founder of Chasing Delicious. Pastry cook at Fluff Bake Bar. Lover of hot dogs. Russell van Kraayenburg founded Chasing Delicious in 2010 and has been chasing delicious recipes ever since. Russell is author of the cookbooks Haute Dogs and Making Dough.


  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I think we all have our classic dishes from childhood that we have such fond memories of. I’m a Cream of Wheat fan… something my grandmother used to make for me. It would be lumpy and there’d be butter and sugar and it was just so delicious and it made me feel all warm and cozy.

    Thanks for sharing this Russell!

  • Stephanie

    You always write so beautifully! I miss the rain and the thunderstorms and the crazy humidity of the east coast. I haven’t watched rain on windowpanes for about two years. Bleh!

  • Marcello Arena

    russell i love your words,your video and your pictures!

  • Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

    Your classics are so beautiful! I’ve always canned my jam, I’ve never thought to just make 1-2 jars at a time. Which seems silly, now that I say it (sort of) out loud. I might have more fun experimenting with just a jar at a time!

  • Martina C.

    beautiful post, as usual! Wonderful photos, words… I love your style. =)


  • Shelly Westerhausen

    Beautiful photos and video!

  • Eva @ 1 Big Bite

    I agree, great food deserves great bread. I already made some “refrigerator” jam but never nut butter. Your recipe sounds so easy, I gonna try it!
    Thanks for sharing, everything looks stunning.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Love this!…and I am really digging the song in that video! What an awesome classic :)

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Your sandwich bread looks fantastic (love the honey addition!) and pecan butter with strawberry jam is a fun grown-up spin on a classic!

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective

    That pecan butter sounds lovely! A great way to boost PB&J. :)

  • SandeeA

    You stare at the raindrops, the same way I could stay here for hours staring at your beautiful video and pictures. Gorgeous post!

  • shelly (cookies and cups)

    Seriously, I have never craved PB&J so bad in my life. And I want to live in your video. Gorgeous.

  • Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.

    awesome! from one sandwich lover to another

  • Riley

    I love me some homemade jam! Your photos are beautiful too!

  • Jeanette

    Now that is a PB&J sandwich – can I come over for lunch please? Seriously, every component of this sandwich sounds fabulous!

  • Miriam @ Overtime Cook

    I feel like a broken record saying this to you again, but…wow! Gorgeous pictures. Absolutely breathtaking.

  • Carolyn

    Sigh…a good PB and J sandy…that might be what I miss most being a diabetic! Great recipes.

  • Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    You’ve managed put into one post three things I’ve had on my to-make list for ages: bread, nut butter, and jam. I’m impressed!

  • Diane {Created by Diane}

    I just LOVE your videos and WOW am I really wanting a PBJ sandwich right now :)

  • RavieNomNoms

    Love your video and love your pictures even more. So gorgeous! I love PB&J sandwiches. There really isn’t anything better :-)

  • Kiran @

    Where I hail from, the childhood memories were all about homemade wholewheat stuffed parathas/rotis. Absolutely yummy! Ever since settling in the States, I am hooked to PB&J!

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Beautiful Post as always…
    I adore PB & J sandwich and more than me my kids love them… Never a hard time when I offer this to them :)
    Gorgeous Clicks…
    B/W Have you retouched your blog design? looks different ..

    • Russell

      I cleaned it up a bit. Trying to make the look simple. I also added icons… because I love icons haha.

      And thanks for the kind words! I love a parent who likes their PB&J ; )

  • Stephanie

    That bread looks beeautiful!!

    I’m so behind on your blog! Going through all the posts I missed now to catch up.

    I was also afraid of canning until I bought “canning for a new generation” and it made it so simple! I only can 4-6 jars at a time but its not scary at all. They just get boiled in a pot of water and then you listen for that satisfying “pop” of the lid sealing after you’ve taken them out to cool on the top. I swear you’ll love canning. It’s satisfying to me in the same way that bread making is.

    I’ll be giving this loaf a try soon, I was actually planning on heading over to the fresh loaf forums to scrounge around for a new sandwich loaf recipe. Good timing.

  • Khushboo

    Your writing is so beautiful, so are the recipes :)

  • Rikki

    How delicious does this look!!?? I used to eat pb&j all the time when I was little, but never as good and homemade as this! Love it.

  • Lisa | With Style and Grace

    this has to be the most beautiful pb&j I’ve ever seen!!

  • Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings

    You make boring old PB&J so exciting! Your video is just so wonderful, you make making a sandwich so poetic! Cheers!

  • Viviane Bauquet Farre

    Food that evokes beautiful memories is the height of culinary achievement, the chef’s greatest goal. Even the humble PB&J can become something transcendent, like what you’ve achieved here. Well done, Russel!

  • Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand

    Such precision in writing and cooking – even the bread is sliced perfectly! Love the idea of pecan butter. Would love it melting on hot toast. Great video Russell :-)

  • Philip Rodin

    This is so very inspiring! I found the music very calming, and lovely! May I ask which Jon Hopkins song it is?

    • Russell

      Thank you very much. The song is called “The Low Places”. It’s a great song!

  • Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out

    I just made peanut butter today! So easy it’s crazy. I really don’t know why I bother buying the stuff…

    I love this whole post. Can’t forget those childhood classics!

  • erinn johnson

    I have been looking for a really good homemade sandwich bread recipe, this looks like it might be it. I can not wait to give it a try.

  • Kathy - Panini Happy

    We had a gorgeous sunny day outside today and you’re actually making me wish it had rained instead, so it would be extra cozy and inviting for the ultimate PB&J on perfect sandwich bread! :-)

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    That pecan butter sounds like the perfect way to update a classic.

  • Pamela Heiligenthal

    I love the homemade nut butter! On a side note, it sounds crazy, but try pairing a PB&J with red wine – anything brambly like an Australian Shiraz or California Zinfandel will do just fine. Try it, you’ll like it!

  • Maddy

    Wow. You may a fan here. Captivating video and PBJ sandwich no one can resist. Ah, life is bliss this way.

  • Sophie @ happyspinach

    There is absolutely nothing better than a PB&J (or in my case an almond butter and strawberry jam, or almond butter and banana)on homemade sandwhich bread. That plus a rainy day and Bach’s cello suites makes a perfect weekend.

  • ThisBakerGirlBlogs

    You write so beautifully! I love thunderstorms and it often feels like I could just sit there and watch it rain, forever.
    I hate peanut butter almost as much as I love thunderstorms and so I’ve never tried a PB&J sandwich. I’ve also never tried pecan butter but you’ve made the whole thing sound and look delicious that I’m tempted to give it a try!

    P.S. Just discovered your site and I’m already in love with it. Think I’ll be doing a fair bit of stalking around here – hope that’s ok :)

  • Sarah

    your video was as mesmerizing as the rain! thanks for sharing

  • Ashley

    That bread look amazing. And your photos are just so gorgeous!

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