Friday Doldrums (Oatmeal-Bulgur Peanut Butter & Jelly Bread)

Soooooo..... I was sitting in my office Friday afternoon working on some insane Excel/ data entry/ reporting stuff. Semi-mindless work, but oddly calming.

In the midst of transcribing data and tweaking formulas in cells, my mind suddenly shut down and random thoughts started taking over.

At which point, my conscious consciousness realized that I had probably been abosrbed in the task at hand for a wee bit too long and that it was time to clear the randomness.

I am guessing this total shut down was the result of a relatively empty office & and an unusually quiet telephone (thank you, Friday afternoon...)

Anyhoo,the one random thoughts that my brain latched on to was the concept of a peanut butter & jelly bread. Now, usually I would rush to zee ole Google & see what was out there.

This time, I refused to Google the concept. I already had an idea of what I wanted and didn't want to someone else's creation to pollute my vision (no offense meant to anyone). I was feeling a little stubborn like that.

The whole drive home, I was fixated on this bread. Thirty-four miles and forty minutes of driving later, I ran to my bookshelf and pulled out one of my favorite bread resources, Beth Henspberger's The Bread Bible.

And so it began. 

I knew that I wanted the bread to have bite. Substance. Nourishment. I picked a bulgur-oatmeal loaf as the base - loving the nubby texture that the wheat & oatmeal would bring. By trading the fat in the loaf for peanut butter & adding vital wheat gluten and making a few other adjustments, I ended up with a lovely high-rising loaf that made me happy, happy, happy. Giddy, gleefully, joyously happy.

A note on flours - the original recipe calls for either bread flour or unbleached all-purpose. I split it up - using the bread flour for the sponge and unbleached AP for the dough. I like "chewy" that the bread flour offers and the tenderness from the AP.

For the jelly filling, I used what was open in the refrigerator. I had three or four jars open. I went with raspberry, because I could.

Oatmeal-Bulgur PB & J Bread
Inspired by Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible

1 Tbs instant yeast
2 Tbs brown sugar
2/3 cup bulgur wheat
2 1/4 cups water (warm to the touch)
2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat bran.
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used homemade - so it did not have sugar, etc in it)
1 Tbs + 1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 - 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 - 2/3 jelly of your choice , room temperature- I like raspberry

Sponge: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, bulgur and water. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 cups bread flour and beat well until smooth mixture is formed. Cover. Let stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Mixture will get all foamy & expand, so keep an eye on it.
Dough: Add oats, bran, sugar, peanut butter & salt to the sponge. Beat well (~1 minute).  Add one cup of flour. Beat well. Add second cup of flour. Beat well. Add remaining flour 1/3 of a cup at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Knead for ~3-5 minutes until dough is smooth & elastic. Turn into a large greased bowl. Cover. Let rise until doubled in size - ~1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Once dough has doubled, gently deflate. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Divide dough into two pieces (keep second piece covered while working on the first piece). Roll first piece into a ~8" x 15" rectangle. Spread 1/2 of the jelly over the bread, leaving one end and about a 1/2" border along the sides of the dough clear.  Beginning with the jellied end, roll tightly - making sure the non-jellied side is the sealing edge. Tuck in the sides of the dough so that the dough doesn't leak out during baking. Place in greased loaf pan seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap.

Repeat with second portion of dough.

Let loaves rise (covered) until they have doubled in size (~45 minutes to 1 hour). At this point, if you want, you can place in the refrigerator overnight or wrap tightly and freeze. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator & bring dough to room temperature before baking.

Preheat oven to 375F.Bake on a center rack for ~35-40 minutes - until the loaves are hollow when tapped on the bottom (internal temp 190F). Remove from oven. Let rest in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pan & finish cooling on rack. Let loaves cool completely before cutting.  


  1. Now, I've never heard of PB&J bread. This looks great!

  2. Kudos for making your own recipe for it! I'd have googled it before I even knew I was googling it. Looks great!

  3. Cher, you totally rocked this! I wondered what you had up your sleeve when you tweeted last Friday. :) How wonderfully creative!

    Some of my best ideas have come about in front of an Excel spreadsheet. (I think my company should be worried that it's easy so zone out in front of P&Ls!)

  4. I so adore your methodology. And your bread looks fabulous!

  5. This looks delicious. I've heard of this book, The Bread Bible, and I've been looking for a good bread baking book. Would you say this is a difficult book to understand? I haven't done anything with starters yet, but I want to learn some new techniques. And I know what you mean about wanting your "own" recipe, rather than something from the google machine!

    1. I would say it falls on a "medium" in the difficulty scale. It has several sponges and a couple of starters - although this isn't the book I would reccommend for starters. Good variety, but perhaps missing a few basics. I really like Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads - it's a little more comprehensive & Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is a good resource too...

  6. What a beautiful loaf of bread. I love the perfect swirls.

  7. I like the way you think! Gorgeous loaves and a great idea.

  8. I have that cook book and it's a good one! This is one gorgeous loaf of wholesome bread with a yummy hidden surprise to help fight off those doldrums!

  9. Yum! I love how it's healthy and hearty but still looks super tasty.

  10. And that's why they call it inspiration! Great job, Cher! And, a winning combination.

  11. Yummy!! I love your creativity in this recipe. Gotta make this soon :)


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