We’ve been eating strawberries for weeks now. But we hadn’t really enjoyed them until this weekend. We bought a flat from a nearby farm stand and oh my word! They were the sweetest, juiciest berries of the year. Richly coloured throughout; none of the white centres that make strawberries a little tart. They were like candy.
I still have 9 jars of traditional strawberry jam left from the near 30 I made last year. But I’d been reading about using honey in place of the 7 cups of sugar (!) and decided to have a go. I used Aimée’s recipe over on Simple Bites (sugar-free strawberry jam) and some honey that I picked up at a local farmer’s market. The results were delicious. Far less cloying than the sugar jam. The colour, flavour and texture are all lighter, too. I need to make another batch before berry season ends. Much of the flat has simply been eaten out of hand, though. I’ll need to buy more.
What goes better with homemade jam than homemade bread? I was scheduled to bring a loaf to church for communion, and began looking for a recipe (I know, I have bread recipes already – I can’t help it. I love trying new ones). I found this one on The Well Floured Kitchen for a crusty whole wheat loaf and adapted it for what I had. I used white bread flour and less yeast, along with a splash of oil. Finishing it with a honey wash gave the crust a lovely deep brown colour. And since the recipe made two loaves, we had one to enjoy with our jam. And some reading (I picked up Julia Child’s biography from the library on the weekend. I love Julia Child).
Honey Brushed Crusty Bread
6 cups white bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey, divided
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups warm water plus another 2 tablespoons for the honey wash
Melt one tablespoon of honey in two tablespoons of warm water and set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, adjusting the flour or water as necessary to achieve a smooth, elastic dough. Cover and allow to rise approximately 1 hour. The dough should double in size.
Punch down the dough, divide roughly in half and shape into two oblong-ish loaves on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise again, approximately 1 hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slash the loaves three or four times with a sharp knife and brush with the reserved honey water. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely golden brown. Let the loaves cool at least a bit before devouring.
Yield: 2 loaves