Peanut Butter Jelly Loaf

September 19, 2011 at 10:30 am 48 comments

PBJ Loaf

I’m sitting on a windowsill, trying to write this post, but I keep getting distracted.

There’s the jet lag I can’t seem to shake. I find myself asleep throughout lunch and wide awake at three in the morning, powering through the headaches that come and go and the occasional ear pop.

There’s the noise. In the hallway outside my room, I hear every step on the creaky wood floors that are older than me. Downstairs someone is playing the untuned grand piano. Whenever a door slams – and they have to slam or they won’t shut – the sound bounces up every flight of stairs, around the high ceilings, and into my jet-lagged head.

But most of all, there’s the beauty. From the window opposite me I can see into the courtyard, four even brick walls and a stone tower around a square of cobblestone. If I lean I can see the path continue into a drawbridge, then an open field. My bedroom window looks over the moat, slowly churned by a single fountain and home to one black swan.

I’m blogging from a small castle in the Netherlands, a three-hour bus ride from Amsterdam and a seven-hour flight from Boston. For the next three months, this is home.

PBJ Loaf

I found out I’d be studying abroad way back in first semester, but it didn’t feel real until I was loading my bag onto the bus, lugging it through Logan Airport. I didn’t think I slept much on the flight but I blinked and the sky changed from charcoal to pink and apricot. Then the plane touched down onto the flattest country I’d ever seen, and “Welcome to Amsterdam” crinkled over the speaker.

Even though the airport was filled with English, nothing was familiar. I instantly regretted wearing my Boston sweatshirt, which made me feel extra touristy and kind of guilty. We boarded yet another bus and passed windmills, grassy stretches, and lots of cows until finally we arrived at the castle.

There’s a village ten minutes from here, where we can buy shampoo from “Everything Under One Roof” and applekorn shots from the bar (Wednesday nights are American Night.) Cars always honk warmly at us when we walk through town, elderly couples smile when they pass on bikes. So far I can’t help but adore the Dutch. Every local I’ve run into is friendly, to the point, and has a good sense of humor.

Still, the culture feels so new, with distinctions I haven’t really learned. I asked a teacher if I could find an oven somewhere in the village and her reply was polite, but brisk – “No. The Dutch are a private people. Nobody will let you into their home just to use a kitchen.”

Peanut Butter

I can’t cook, but I can eat. Our castle tour guide passed around a bag of stroopwafel, two thin waffles sandwiched with caramel syrup. I bought apricot tart at the village bakery. The dough was like bread and the apricots were so sticky sweet, they perfumed my fingers for hours. I’m obsessed with the tomatoensoep from the little café. It’s like marinara! I ended up dipping French fries into it because – sorry – I didn’t like the weird custard-like mayonnaise that came with them instead of ketchup.

I didn’t expect much from the castle’s dining hall, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Breakfast and lunch usually includes breads, deli meats and cheese, even fresh fruit. Dinner always has potatoes in one form or another, and a heavy white sauce. It kind of feels like home until you reach the spreads. Literally, a table full of various jars, available at every meal and totally strange.

There are two chocolate spreads. One is kind of like Nutella and the other is a milk/white chocolate swirled duo. I tried to read the back for ingredients, which were offered in six languages, none of which were English. I tried a strange black syrup on a dare – it turned out to be apple. There are cheese spreads, vegetable spreads, and more of that European mayo.

Then, for no obvious reason, every table has peanut butter and jam.

PBJ Loaf

For the first time, I was reminded of something wholly American. I was thrown back to childhood afterschool sandwiches, thumbprint cookies, and this Peanut Butter and Jelly Loaf I made in Seattle. The pound cake is soft and sweet, and the sugar coating on the pan makes the edges slightly crisp like a peanut butter cookie. I couldn’t help but add dollops of grape jelly, which became set into a sticky swirl after baking.

I ate my potatoes and heavy white sauce but I kept thinking about that loaf. Finally I decided to make a PB&J. I expected the unexpected, because everything that looks familiar ends up being strange. The milk is extra thick, the yogurt is extra thin, the butter has a texture I can’t place. But I opened the two jars, spread each onto bread, and sandwiched them together.

Unbelievable. The peanut butter was creamy and sweet but really… A whole lot like Jif. And the strawberry jam? Maybe a few more strawberry chunks than I’m used to, but exactly like jam at the Boston dining hall. I ate my peanut butter sandwich and felt wholly American, and kind of okay with that. I have plenty of time to adjust, travel, and adapt. Next weekend I’m off to Amsterdam, and the weekend after that, Edinburgh. For right now, though, I’ll enjoy the occasional PB&J.

The internet is a little spotty, but I’ll keep blogging! Expect some photo-filled travel posts…

PBJ Loaf

Peanut Butter Jelly Loaf
Adapted from Cuisine At Home Magazine via Anger Burger
Makes a 9×5″ Loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy, all natural peanut butter (with no added palm oil)
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup jam

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×5″ loaf pan and coat it with sugar.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. In another bowl, stir the jam to break it up and get it loose.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the peanut butter, butter, and sugars on medium high speed for a full five minutes. The mixture won’t get light and fluffy and the sugar won’t dissolve, but the mixture will be less grainy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Beat in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla extract, then the rest of the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl. The batter will be thin. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan and dollop with jam. Pour the rest of the batter over the jam and sprinkle the top with large grain sugar.

Bake the loaf for about 50 minutes. The time for this one really depends on your oven, so keep checking. If the edges start to get too brown, loosely tent some tin foil over the top and keep baking. Then bake for another 10-20 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Printer-Friendly Version Peanut Butter Jelly Loaf

Entry filed under: Breads, Cake/Cupcakes, Travel. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Edinburgh

48 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chef Tom Minchella  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Coming from a large family we went through our share of peanut butter and jelly! Must try this!!

  • 2. Ashlae  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

    How exciting that you are studying in Amsterdam! And staying in a castle? You lucky lady! I cannot wait to see photos.

    PS – the loaf looks delicious, and your photos are beautiful.

  • 3. Stephanie  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Waw I can’t wait to try this! Special + for the “no added palm oil” mention! Looks delicious… as usual! ;)

  • 4. Tara  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I hope you have a fabulous semester abroad, Elissa! Enjoy every second of it and snatch up whatever you can that reminds you of home. Looking forward to reading your travel posts in the coming months. :)

  • 5. Michelle Claire  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Dear Elissa!
    I don’t know in which part of Holland you are staying but you can sure use my oven! (I live in Amsterdam and in the south, Limburg to be precise)
    Enjoy your stay in Holland, I allways enjoy reading your posts!

    Michelle CLaire

  • 6. Katy  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I am still totally and completely jealous that you are studying abroad. I hope you have countless unbelievable experiences and enjoy yourself immensely while you are there! :)

  • 7. onceuponarecipe  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Elissa, this loaf looks delicious. I love the idea of a childhood (and sometimes adulthood) sandwich being melded together into a quick bread. I can’t wait to hear about some of your European adventures – what a great opportunity! :)

  • 8. Vicki @ WITK  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Stroopwafel! I ate a ton of those last year when I was in Amsterdam, so yummy :) Your semester abroad sounds like its going to be amazing, have fun living in a castle! Glad you were able to find something to remind you of home

  • 9. d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo  |  September 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I want to try this with my homemade peanut butter! (recipe will be up later today!)

  • 10. thebigbookofdating  |  September 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Mmm peanut butter….

  • 11. Manja  |  September 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I have been living and studying in the Netherlands for four years now…I love this country and the diverse cultural influences here? Three hours from Amsterdam? This sounds like Maastricht….if it is, you should really go pay Germany a visit. Cologne and Aachen are very nearby. And Belgium is also very close :)

    Amsterdam is great…! Lots of culture, history….and great shopping. You can actually get a lot of American products in the Netherlands, more than in Germany (where I am from). The Dutch are a difficult nation when it comes to baking, they really like their mixes. If you know Speculaas cookies, you should really try the Speculoos pasta, which is a creamy version of the cookies and it tastes awesome! You should also check out Kruidnoten covered in chocolate, very Christmas-y but delicious!

    And some more tips: Try some Antillian and Surinamese food! Kaaspastei (Cheese pastry) or Roti! Very delicious! As for the Dutch food culture, I am not very fond of it. They are really into frying. But anyway, you shouldn’t leave the country without having tried a typical Dutch stamppot :)

    I wish you a great time in this wonderful country and in Edinburgh as well – it is a beautiful city!!!

  • 12. bell  |  September 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Oh this is so exciting! It sounds like you’re in for a truly amazing trip. It’s funny hearing you talk about the differences in European and U.S. products. I suppose it might offer some explanation as to why some recipes just don’t seem to work for some people and then work perfectly for others, despite the fact that a recipe has been followed to a ‘T’ in both instances. If you make it to Dublin, I have a nice, spacious kitchen here very close to the city centre that would LOVE to be baked in by you!

  • 13. Geni - Sweet and Crumby  |  September 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    This PBnJ loaf looks totally American and yummy. How fabulous to be in the Netherlands AND in a castle. I hope you find a welcoming oven, but in the meantime, enjoy your time being a tourist and student. Take care and be safe.

  • 14. Anna  |  September 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Woah! I’ve been following your blog for a while and I’m so happy for you – studying abroad is such a great experience. I’m a foreign student too right now (in Strasbourg, France; I’m from Italy). I don’t have access to an oven either… D: but the food in this region is amazing!

  • 15. Lauren  |  September 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Elissa, I’m so thrilled for you. The castle sounds magical. Jet lag will be gone (as much as it ever is) soon enough, and all else good will set in. I can’t wait for photos, and for the stories. Sending you love each day. xox

  • 16. Procrastibaking  |  September 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Go to a coffee shop. You won’t be disappointed. The brownies there are to die for.

    • 17. Jessi  |  September 22, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Make sure you get actual chocolate brownies, though… if you know what I mean. ;)

  • 18. Caroline  |  September 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Enjoy every second of your time abroad, it will go by faster than you think!

  • 19. wanderingeducators  |  September 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    yum!! i am so excited that you’re studying abroad. it’s life changing! and this, this bread? will get made. :) thanks!

  • 20. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  September 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    At least this loaf is a lot like home. I lived in Europe (Switzerland) for 5 months and was away from home this summer. It was weird, but soon enough I got used to it, and everything seemed normal. Lucky for you almost everyone (at least the young people) speak a bit of English in The Netherlands! Good luck!

  • 21. Nanna  |  September 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    My heart always skips a beat when I hear that someone is going to Edinburgh! I lived there for one year when I was attending Edinburgh University for my MA and (this is going to sound corny) it is a magical place. Have fun!

  • 22. Hannah@ Bake Five  |  September 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I’ve always, always wanted to go somewhere countryside-y in Europe. I just glad I’m able to explore a little of it through another’s experiences. (:

  • 23. Hayley Daen  |  September 20, 2011 at 4:09 am

    Hi Elissa!
    just wanted to let you know I love your blog. SO much. I go down to St Andrews and am planning to go to Edinburgh in a few weekends too, so please please please let me know if you want to meet up!

  • 24. Lauren at Keep It Sweet  |  September 20, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Whenever I’m in Europe I’m very happy eating but I always miss peanut butter. This pb&j loaf looks wonderful!

  • 25. Amanda : Grace & Gusto  |  September 20, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I always get excited when I see a new post from you. Your writing is mesmerizing, I love it.

    Three months in a castle? Jealous! I’ve always wanted to study abroad, but never had the opportunity. Enjoy every second! :)

  • 26. Melissa  |  September 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    So exciting! I would love to see some pics from Amsterdam. Staying in a castle must be cool. You will have to talk someone into giving you a tour of their kitchen for your blog. A castle kitchen has to be awesome. Have a blast!

  • 27. Kim N.  |  September 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    This looks wonderful! I have never baked any bread before, but I am tempted after looking at this recipe! :)

  • 28. Cousin Sharon  |  September 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm


    Florida is extremely flat as well, which makes for magnificent sunrises and sunsets. Make sure you visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, its pretty amazing, especially if you’ve read her story.

    Even in your jet lagged state your post was well written and tells a wonderful story. And of course I have to try the loaf. Is it more like a breakfast bread or a dessert?

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures! Wishing you remarkable sunsets and delicious food!

  • 29. Lucy  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Your trip sounds amazing – the Netherlands sound beautiful. My sister lives in Edinburgh so let me know if you need any travel tips :)

  • 30. Laura  |  September 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Elissa! I’m a fellow Boston resident, and spent a semester of college studying in Utrecht. I can definitely relate to all the adjustments you’re dealing with, as well as the process of falling in love with the country and its people. Have a wonderful time, eat stroopwafels from the markets (the bigger ones, made in front of you so they’re warm and oozy) and email me if you need any suggestions!

  • 31. Hinna  |  September 22, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Just out of curiosity, what college course has taken you over to Europe? If you get a chance, please do post up some pictures of the surrounding area and the castle!

  • 32. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking  |  September 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

    What a great experience, enjoy it!! Can’t wait to see pictures!

  • 33. Amelia @ princessandthefrosting  |  September 23, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    That looks like it would taste amazing! Just found your blog, looks awesome! Can’t wait to read it more :)

  • 34. µ  |  September 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Elissa, when I read this article my first idea was: “Well if she is in Europe, she can use my oven of course!” Turns out this idea was not very inventive, since at least one other reader “Hi Michelle Claire!” had the same idea…but still, if you want to take a trip to Germany, I would gladly offer you my oven and my couch. Hope that the Europeans are nice and give you the welcome you deserve. Honestly admire your blog! Cheers Melanie

  • 35. kyleen  |  September 26, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Studying abroad sounds like so much fun! I can’t wait for the travel photos.

  • 36. Jim (@HollandJim)  |  September 26, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I’ve been living in the Netherlands for 12 years now (also from the east coast) and baking has some challenges here. Bread flour has to be imported..? Hello!? On the other hand, some of the foods are amazingly good—my father still pines for the supermarket pastries, so much better than his local california bakery. Enjoy – and if you have questions, just ask!

  • 37. Julia  |  October 3, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Dear Elissa,

    I would certainly let you into my home just to use the kitchen! Seriously, if you want to, just send me an email.

    Have fun in Holland!

  • 38. Gina  |  October 4, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I made this the other night–it was wonderful and a huge hit with my family. Thanks for another winning recipe!

  • 39. Anon.  |  October 6, 2011 at 6:45 am

    So you probably already know about this, but I saw it and remembered that 17 and Baking is based (part-time, at least) in Seattle, so…

  • 40. foundbaking  |  October 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    PB&J loaf sounds perfect morning, afternoon, or night. Good luck with your new environment. And definitely looking forward to seeing more “travel” and “touristy” pictures.

  • 41. Moriah  |  October 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Oh! You’re visiting Edinburgh? I live like 25 minutes away from it, and my sister is studying at Edinburgh Uni (we’re Americans though!). :) It’s a beautiful city, expect lots of rain though – only the finest weather in Scotland. You’ll probably be too busy, or unable to make it out of the city, but you could use my oven if you’re feeling serious withdrawal symptoms from baking. ;P

  • 42. Ilissa S.  |  October 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Hi Elissa! I studied abroad in Maastricht last year, best 6 months of my life!! I love to bake but, like you, we had no oven in our small apartment. We did have a mini refrigerator and an electric stovetop so my roommate and I went to albert heijn (the grocery store, you have probably heard of it already) and bought a box of “American cookie mix”. We then attempted to make these cookies and cook them on our stove in a frying pan… needless to say they were not that great! Good luck finding an oven! Enjoy every minute of your trip, the Dutch are amazing people!!

  • 43. jen  |  October 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    When I first met my husband, he was SO SKINNY-and then I realized he subsisted on PB and J almost entirely…I never liked peanut butter and jelly when I was a kid, and don’t even think I ever made a PBJ in the dining hall in college…but just lately I’ve been starting to appreciate it. He’s put on a couple of pounds, but still reaches for the peanut butter (we keep ours separate-his is Parkers natural from the co-op, I go for JIF)-He is going to LOVE this, and I don’t even have to go grocery shopping! Thank you-and just so you know- you are totally adorable, and make me miss my college years! Also-I love the love you have for your family! Just such an encouragement as a new mom of how much you enjoy your family…I hope we have that kind of a relationship with our little girl Larkin as she grows up and leaves home…finding your way, but knowing the love and support of home.

  • 44. Jaclyn @ Justins Nut Butter  |  October 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Brilliant idea, this looks delicious :) You should try using some of Justin’s Nut Butter next time, we are an organic company based in Boulder, Colorado, and are a healthy alternative to other peanut butters :) I highly recommend it! Cheers!

  • 45. skinnyfatgirls  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Genius! Looks even tastier than a normal pb&j! And maybe spread a little Nutella on top? Just my two cents, as I’m of the opinion that a little Nutella belongs on the top of EVERYTHING.

    • 46. kdelicious  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

      *sigh* I couldn’t agree more. Nutella is bliss

  • 47. kdelicious  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Wow! That looks delicious! I am so making that loaf! I love the pictures of the bread. They make me want to jump right into the computer and eat that bread! I think this recipe is genius. It’s ike eating a PB and J sandwich, except no spreading and no toasting bread. It’s like a 3 in 1 of peanut butter, jam, and bread :D awesome!

    I really love your blog. It has a nice homey feel to it, and your writing and pictures are so warm, soothing and relaxing. Even as I read your posts in this hectic university library, I feel the comfort and warmth of home.

    I also love the way you give details about your life without boring your reader. Your writing is captivating. it’s so natural, and never dull. I never get bored of it, no matter how long your posts are. I find myself wanting to know more and more about your life. I’m so excited about your trip in Europe! It looks exciting!

    Also, I think it’s really smart that you insert pics of your food while you’re talking about your life. It keeps the interest of your readers. Even if you’re not talking about your food, the pictures make us stay for more. That’s really smart, because in my blog I was just putting pictures of my food in the beginning and ends of my posts, and clumping all the pictures together isn’t that effective, instead it looks kind of repetitive, and all the writing in between probably intimidates the readers.

    Good luck on your blog and in life and I look forward to your future posts!

  • 48. The Hook  |  January 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Awesome share!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

Subscribe to 17 and Baking via RSS! Become a fan of 17 and Baking on Facebook! Follow @17andbaking on Twitter! Follow elissabernstein on Instagram! Email me at!

Leave Your Location


The Fine Print

Locations of visitors to this page

Site Meter

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thank you for reading!

All text, photos, and logo
© 17 and Baking 2008 - 2013

%d bloggers like this: