Sunday, October 3

Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat focaccia

I love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It's not something I eat regularly, but every so often, I'll get on a kick and I'll eat it for a few days.  (Tara, on the other hand, can't really stomach the stuff and thinks I'm a little bit off for being so enamored with it.)  I'm rather particular about my PB&J: it has to be on whole wheat bread, I like it super rich with lots of peanut butter and lots of jelly, I only like it with grape jelly, and the peanut butter and jelly have to be in even amounts, spread all the way to the edges (I'm almost obsessive about the last two; I'll spend several minutes making sure each slice is the same, even going so far as to hold each slice next to each other to compare.). 

While I could technically use my favorite bread for a sandwich, even though it has soy, I actually wanted to make wheat bread.  However, I'm still a little nervous about making a whole wheat sandwich loaf and I was already making the olive oil bread that same day, so I didn't want to make another loaf style bread.  I decided to buck tradition and make a whole wheat focaccia bread for my sandwiches.   I didn't have any regular whole wheat flour, but I had some graham flour which I figured would add an interesting crunch (much like the addition of cornmeal to pizza).   

I forgot to oil the top of the focaccia, so it baked up a bit wonky and the entire thing was slightly curved.  Because of this, and the deep holes in the bread, I decided not to slice the focaccia pieces in half as you would for a traditional sandwich.  Instead, I flipped each piece over and slathered what would have been the bottom with both the peanut butter and the jelly.  I felt rather daring each time I made a PB&J slice.

Because my peanut butter was so thin, it was hard to get the ratios even.  Believe me, I tried!

Whole wheat focaccia bread
Adapted from Mark Bittman

I followed the recipe below, but I would make a few changes next time.  Mainly, I would use a bit less salt, reduce the oil in the bread to 2 tablespoons, and maybe add a tablespoon or so of honey.  I used my stand mixer, but I'll give directions for mixing it in the food processor or by hand. 

  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat graham flour (or regular whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more) water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Stand mixer: Combine half the flours with the salt, yeast, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and water.  Using the paddle blade, blend until smooth.  With the machine on slow speed, add the remaining flour a little at a time, until the mixture has become a sticky ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (switch to the dough hook, if needed).  Knead by hand for one minute, adding as little flour as necessary.  Proceed below.

Food processor: Combine the flours, yeast, and salt in a food processor.  Turn the machine on and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil through the feed tube, followed by 1 1/2 cups of water.  Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch.  Proceed below.

By hand: Combine half the flours with the salt and yeast in a large bowl and stir to blend.  Add the oil and water and stir with a wooden handle until smooth.  Add the remaining flour a little at a time.  When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little flour as possible - just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess.  Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about 10 minutes.  Proceed below.

Form a smooth, round dough ball, put it into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.  When the dough is ready, shape the dough into a ball.  Put the ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap (I used the same piece as before).  Let rest until the dough puffs slightly, about 20 minutes.

Use the remaining tablespoon to grease an 11x17-inch jelly roll pan (I think my pan dimensions are a little different.).  Press the dough into a small rectangle and put it into the pan; let it relax there for a minute.    Press and stretch the dough until it reaches the edges of the pan.  (I didn't have any trouble with this step, but if you do, the key is to take your time and don't fight the dough!)  If it resists, let it rest a bit and then begin stretching again.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 425F . Uncover the dough and dimple the surface all over with your fingertips.  Brush the surface of the dough with a little olive oil (I forgot this and it was a little dry.  While this wasn't a problem for me because I intended it to be covered with peanut butter and jelly, your mileage may vary.).  Put the focaccia in the oven and lower the temperature to 375F, and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  Remove and cool on a rack.

Note: This focaccia freezes really well, so don't worry if you're not going to eat it all right away.  Also, you could, of course, use this recipe as a base for toppings; just prepare it like I did for the butternut squash flatbread.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


  1. I know you think your peanut butter is thin, but I love how sloppy it looks! That is a delicious pb&j.

  2. Merut - Thank you! It really was tasty, especially when I toasted the focaccia a bit!


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