This summer in Colorado feels like it’s the summer of the wasps. Maybe it’s just our house, but I’ve seen more wasps and wasp nests than I ever have before. They seem to have taken over our yard, deck and porch and we are swatting them away everywhere we go. This state of affairs brought to mind one of my favorite picture books for summertime reading: The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway. In this wacky tale, the town of Itching Down comes together to defeat the wasps that have taken over their village (four million wasps, to be precise). I love that this story shows a whole town working together to solve a problem, even if their solution is deliciously unrealistic. When Bap the Baker suggests trapping the wasps in a giant jam sandwich, everyone agrees this is the perfect solution and the result is a silly, fun, crazy adventure told in easy-to-read rhyming verse.
Despite having just shared a recipe for cupcakes with strawberry icing, I had to include another strawberry recipe in this post. After all, strawberry jam is an important component for any wasp-catching sandwich. Plus, this recipe for Easy Stovetop Strawberry Jam is a perfect one to make with kids on a long summer day. Kids can help with removing the strawberry stems, chopping them, and stirring all the ingredients together in a pot. Unlike more complicated jams, made with canning equipment, this recipe uses a simple process and doesn’t require pectin. Although it will only keep for a week or two in the fridge, this jam comes together quickly and can be enjoyed almost immediately, making it a perfect “beginning” jam for kids to help with.
The sandwich bread I used here is my favorite homemade sandwich bread that I have developed through much trial and error. I wanted a whole-wheat based bread that wasn’t too heavy and had a mild, sweet flavor that kids like. This recipe for Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread hits the spot exactly and is especially delicious enjoyed straight from the oven, spread with a heaping spoon of homemade jam. Together they make the perfect Giant Jam Sandwich!
Easy Stovetop Strawberry Jam
Makes about 2 cups
Time: 25 minutes
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
- Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy, medium sized pot. Stir them together well with a wooden spoon, pounding the strawberries a bit to release some of their juice. This is the perfect step for a small child to help with!
- Place the pot on a burner over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until all the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and bring jam to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently and mashing the strawberries with a spoon, for another 10 minutes, or until the jam thickens and strawberries soften.
- Once it has thickened to the texture you desire, remove the jam from the heat and cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Spoon the jam into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Time: 2 1/2 hours
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Let the yeast sit for about 5 minutes until foamy. With your mixer on low (or stirring with a wooden spoon, if you don’t have a mixer), stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water, honey, salt and butter until combined.
- Add in the whole-wheat flour and mix, or stir, until a wet dough forms. Add the 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix until combined, adding more all-purpose flour, if needed to create a smooth, elastic dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.
- If using a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook, and run the mixer for about 8 minutes to knead the dough. Alternatively, if you are not using a mixer, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding a little more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
- Place the kneaded dough in a lightly buttered bowl and cover with a clean towel. Rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, brush a 9-inch bread pan with some of the melted butter.
- Once dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Roll the dough out into a roughly 9 X 12 inch rectangle and then roll it up, starting from one of the short ends, to form a 9-inch long loaf. Transfer this loaf the buttered bread pan, tucking the ends under. Cover with a clean towel and rise for another hour, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises the second time, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the risen loaf in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Check the loaf after 15 minutes to see if it is beginning to brown on top. If it is getting too browned, cover with foil. Continue to bake another 15-20 minutes, or until load is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing bread from it’s pan.