“Bread and jam, Bread and jam,
I am grateful, yes I am
I thank you kindly for the food I eat.
Thank you for this lovely treat.”
-A Girl Scout Grace
Sunday is often a puttering kind of day at our house, and even though its going to be hot today, I felt like making some good things to eat. I’m trying to teach Sam that homemade treats are at least as good as, if not better than those that are highly processed and purchased. That means that there had better be something pretty delicious to serve as an example of this lesson, or we’re right back to nagging about fruit snacks and frozen pizza rolls.
First, I made strawberry freezer jam. I had intended to make the kind that you have to cook, but I accidentally picked up the dry pectin with directions for no-cook jam. It was very easy, and it seems to me that if you made it with Splenda (which the package says you can do) you’d really be eating fresh fruit on your bread or ice cream since there’s nothing in it besides fruit, pectin and sugar. Here’s the recipe:
No Cook Freezer Jam (Based on the Ball “Simple Creations No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin” package)
- Enough fresh or frozen fruit to yield 4 cups crushed (figure 1 lb. fresh strawberries = 1 cup crushed; the package gives conversions for using frozen fruit. peaches and raspberries)
- 1 1/2 c. sugar or Splenda granular
- Jars (They recommend their own line of plastic 8 oz. freezer jars; I filled two of my own glass quart jars).
Crush fruit. No directions are given for this step, so I hulled and quartered the berries and “pulsed” them in my blender until they formed a thick puree with very few chunks. This could also be done in a food processor.
Stir sugar and contents of package in bowl until well blended.
Add 4 cups crushed fruit (for peaches and apricots reduce to 3 1/2 cups) and stir for 3 minutes.
Ladle jam into jar(s), twist on lids and let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes.
I have to say that this came out a little runnier than I had expected, but it was delicious. I’ll experiment with amount of pectin, and no-cook v. cooked options to see if I can create a slightly firmer texture.
I wanted bread & jam (“Bread & Jam for Frances” is one of my all-time favorite books) but couldn’t stand the idea of fresh freezer jam on regular old store-bought bread, so I made bread, too. Its getting hot outside, but its fairly cool in the house in the morning, and, well, I got obsessed with the idea of fresh, hot bread with butter and freezer jam for lunch.
I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to make bread, and this is the recipe that came in the accompanying manual. I actually like kneading bread dough, but the advantage of using the stand mixture is that while it kneads the dough, I get something else done – the dishwasher emptied, a batch of cookies rotated, laundry folded; you get the idea. If you want to knead your bread, or make something more adventurous than white bread, check out Beard on Bread, which is my go-to source for bread recipes.
Basic White Bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
- 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 1 minute. Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. (Note: be patient with this step, and don’t add more flour until you’re really sure the existing flour is well absorbed. You can always add more flour if your dough is gooey, but once you ad too much you overtax your mixer and risk excessively dense, tough bread). Knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch.
Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour. (When its warm outside, this rises beautifully sitting on a counter. In winter, I often put the bowl in a cold oven to rise, just to keep it away from drafts).
Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks. (If you slice too soon, you will have a squished loaf of bread that is not very attractive when its cool. Resist the temptation unless you are going to eat the whole loaf immediately with butter. I won’t tell).