Ahh PB&J the combination of flavors that meld so perfectly that the phrase has become synonymous with all that is teamwork and harmony. A beautifully simplistic dish, the common denominator between seemingly every food preference, and a culinary tradition appreciated by both young and old.
Yet some how in the last few decades we have slowly allowed the awesomeness of this epic snack to deteriorate. We’ve replaced the robust savory flavor of freshly pulverized peanut butter with sugary brown vegetable oil, we’ve abandon traditional fruit preserves for corn sweetened imitations, and the appreciation for delicately soured, freshly baked bread, has all but vanished.
The entire trio of ingredients has become so jacked up with sugar that this once nutrient packed power snack, now makes diabetics cower. It’s turned into the kind of snack that can be sold pre-made with little difference in taste, a sort of simplistic flavor that can be isolated and made into a popsicle.
*steps off soap box*
Alright… Alright… so modern day PB&J’s aren’t that bad. I just think we could do little better, and here’s how!
So this plate has 3 primary components:
- Sourdough Bread
- Soak-Roasted Peanut Butter
- Chia Seed Pickled Beet Jelly
Each of which I crafted myself with a patchwork of conventional recipes, traditional wisdom, and blind luck. The resulting flavor profile is rich, delicious, and packs a pro-biotic punch thanks to the pickled beets. At some point I will turn each of the ingredient’s into it’s own detailed post, but for now here is a basic outline…
Sourdough bread making is something that I have far from mastered, and have only been experimenting with for the last couple months-check this post to learn more about the awesomeness of sourdough. Here is my current method, the lack of details and measurements will no doubt be frustrating for some of you, but I plan to have a comprehensive and painfully detailed post put together very soon!
Fair warning: I use a very “wet” dough method that enhances the fermenting of the sourdough, it can be difficult to work with and results in a very sour taste!
1. Mix a couple of spoonfuls of sourdough starter, 1 cup flour and water. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight
Add water to get a stir-able consistency that clings to the spoon
White or whole wheat will work. For my bread I use sprouted whole grain rye flour, however it should be noted that whole grain breads are much less fluffy then white flour.
2. The next morning mix in 2 cups of flour and water. Cover and let sit 2 hours
At this point you want the dough to be thick, but still sir-able
3. Mix in more flour and let sit 20mins
You want a consistency that is difficult to stir, but still quite wet
4. “Turn-knead” the dough every 1 1/2 hours
The dough should be too wet to conventionally knead, so I utilize the turn-knead method. Leave the mixture in the bowl, wet your hand and push down along the edge of the bowl, do this around the entire bowl separating the dough from the sides. Now that it’s separated reach down and under the dough and pull up while folding over. This motion is confusing to explain, but the idea is that you are turning the dough over onto itself.
*Wet your hands to keep them from sticking!
5. On the 3rd round of turn-kneading mix in 1tsp salt
6. Pour into oiled loaf pan, cover, and let sit for 2 hours
Preferably somewhere warm! I use a heat mat, but the top of the refrigerator should work
7. Cover with foil and bake at 450 for 20mins
Arch the tinfoil so that there is room for the dough to expand
8. Remove foil and bake another 20mins
9. Remove and let cool
After a half hour-ish you can remove from pan and move to wire rack
Freshly baked bread is tempting, but I promise it’s better if you wait for it to fully cool! If you don’t eat the whole delicious loaf in one sitting store it in a breathable material at room temperature
Soak-roasted Peanut Butter
So technically speaking, peanuts are a legume, not a nut. For that reason there are some people who advocate for taking additional preparation methods when consuming peanuts, other then simply roasting them. I personally subscribe to this train of thought, although I do admit that the full scope of the nutritional science behind it is out of my grasp.
Point is this… One time, I under-cooked kidney beans, and it wreaked havoc on my digestive system. Since then, I refuse to take the power of proper food preparation for granted. For that reason I tend to err on the side of caution, and like to take any and all steps available to boost the nutritional availability and digestibility of my food. Most often times, this is done through some form of fermentation- such is the case with bread- where we are able to turn an inedible grass seed into a loaf of fluffy nourishment. In the case of peanuts, I simply soak them overnight, dehydrate them until crisp, and then roast them.
To learn more about grain and legume preparation check this post
1. Soak the desired amount of peanuts overnight
2. Dehydrate the peanuts at 115f
If you don’t have a dehydrator you could use a low set oven or even crack the door
3. Put the dried peanuts on a pan
I remove the skins first, but some people don’t
3. Roast at 300f for 20mins
They should look oily and slightly brown but not burnt!
4. Let cool and move to food processor
5. Blend, blend, blend, blend, and keep blending!
It will seem like it isn’t going to get smooth, but it will, just keep blending
6. Mix in a pinch of salt and flavorings of choice
Molasses or honey are good sweeteners, but the options are endless!
Chia Seed Pickled beet Jelly
This was my first time experimenting with a fermented “jelly” alternative. In this case I just blended a cup of pickled beet chunks with a little bit of beet juice until it was semi-smooth in texture. I then mixed in a a couple spoonfuls of chia seeds and let it sit. I stirred it occasionally, and after about a half hour the chia seeds bind the mix together into a sort of jelly that is rich in pro-biotic gut friendly bacteria.
Fair warning: I would recommend mixing in some honey or maple if your looking for a sweet flavor.
Any of you fellow sourdough conquistadors got advice to craft an airier loaf?
What other chia-spreads have you guys experimented with?