This blog post caps off a week of all things strawberry. Somehow I’m not sick of strawberries yet.
In fact, I love them more and more each day. I find myself taking a spoonful of strawberry jam and eating it straight out of the jar. I kind of want to go pick berries again this weekend, but I might just settle for the ones I buy at the farmers’ market and wait to go peach picking instead.
Anyway. I’m getting ahead of myself. First I have to tell you about this honey wheat bread and homemade strawberry jam. A few months ago around the holidays, my mom gifted me a bread maker. I was a little wary at first because I’m a big believer in hand making bread. It’s a lot of work so I don’t do it very often, but I think you can tell the difference between a loaf that’s been crafted by hand and one that comes out of a machine. The former is more rustic but often has more flavor.
Still, I wanted to give the bread machine a try. The other night, I took it out of the box for the first time and made a loaf of honey wheat bread.
Using a bread maker is relatively easy. The only part that requires a lot of attention is how you place the ingredients inside. Usually in a bread maker, there’s a bowl where you put all the ingredients. Make sure you start with the liquid ingredients, then add the dry ingredients such as flour, and THEN you sprinkle the yeast on the dry ingredients, trying not to get any in the liquid. This process may sound unnecessary but trust me, it’s not. It ensures that the bread will bake evenly and that you won’t end up with a hockey puck loaf or a goopy, mushy one.
The second thing to watch out for when you’re using a bread maker is the time. I’m not sure about other bread makers but mine has presets that allow you to choose a time based on what kind of loaf you’re making. I used the settings for whole wheat and my bread turned out exactly the way I wanted it to: Fluffy, hearty, slightly brown on the outsides and golden brown on the crust. I couldn’t have asked for a better first run.
Your whole house/apartment/wherever you live will smell wonderful while the bread is baking in the machine. I was a little surprised by this because I thought the smell of baking bread was something you only got from using an oven. But I guess the bread maker is like a small oven.
I topped the bread with some crunchy peanut butter (don’t even talk to me about creamy) and homemade strawberry jam. I’d highly recommend this combo. The honey whole wheat bread is hearty and slightly sweet, the peanut butter is crunchy and soft, and the strawberry jam is tart and zesty from the lemon juice I put in. It’s a win-win situation.
I guess the moral of this story is, a bread maker isn’t an essential kitchen gadget but it does come in handy if you want to make homemade bread but you can’t/won’t go through all the steps. It’s a time saver for sure, and it gives you a pretty good quality product in the end. It’s a step above store-bought bread and a step below the one you make by hand. Here’s a link to the recipe I used for the honey wheat bread.
And here’s a song to get you started on your bread and strawberry jam-making journey. Have I mentioned how much I love Now, Now?
4 cups strawberries, stems and leaves removed
2 Tbsp lemon juice, to taste
3 Tbsp maple syrup
Wash and dry a few mason jars. Set aside until you’re ready to fill them with jam.
Place the berries in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the fruit starts to break down and become syrupy, about 10-15 minutes. Mash the fruit with a potato masher until it’s your desired consistency. I like to leave some chunks of fruit in mine.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the maple syrup and lemon juice. Let the jam stand for about 10 minutes or until it’s thickened a bit. Then pour it into your prepared jars and seal. Allow the jars to come to room temperature before you refrigerate them. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks. Enjoy!