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Chasing Delicious | The Classics – Sandwich Bread & PB&J
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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.


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.

 

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.

Enjoy!

AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Born and raised in Texas, Russell van Kraayenburg may sit you down for a stern lecture if you confuse barbecue with grilling. Creator of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, his work has been featured in Southern Living magazine and on such sites as Lifehacker, Fast Co. Design, Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, The Daily What, Quipsologies, Neatorama,Explore, and Fine Cooking.

44 Comments

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  • 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. =)

    M.

  • 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 @ KiranTarun.com

    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!

  • Just what the doctor ordered - Drifter & the Gypsy

    [...] a hot shower and some warm clothes, this PB&J sandwich sounds just about right.  Sometimes you just can’t beat the classics.  Except instead of PB&J, it’ll be [...]

  • Donna Ciezki

    your site is like eye candy.

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