There’s a thin red line running through the egg sandwich at All Day Baby, a restaurant in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, and that’s at least one reason why crowds come to brunch, despite being unable to to park. That alluring condiment? It’s strawberry jam, flowing down the shiny slide of melted American cheese over scrambled eggs on a soft biscuit. The optional sausage patty or bacon (or both) are just that: optional. Red berry jam is what makes the dish – and it’s a sandwich you’ll definitely want to cook a version of at home.
Jam in savory sandwiches is not new: it is sometimes spread in Monte Cristos with fried ham and cheese, mashed against turkey in a Elena Rouz and, more recently, slipped on soft bread in Inkigayo sandwiches made famous by K-pop groups and their fans. In parts of the southern United States, adding jam to a sausage and egg cracker is like asking for honey with fried chicken, which is a great idea.
The inspiration behind the All Day Baby breakfast sandwich comes partly from chef and co-owner Jonathan Whitener’s extended family in the Carolinas, but mostly from his upbringing in Southern California. As a child, he asked for packets of strawberry jam at McDonald’s when ordering an egg and sausage biscuit, and discovered how much he loved the sweetness between the salty layers. It has become a teenage ritual.
When he was opening All Day Baby, Mr. Whitener, 35, returned to this fast food hack as he chased dinnertime nostalgia for his menu. He commissioned the restaurant’s pastry director, Thessa Diadem, to recreate it.
She had no specific memory of the cookies — certainly not until she moved from the Philippines to California when she was 13. But she knew they were the key to Mr. Whitener’s massive sandwich.
The jam she created was easy and obvious. “If you think of a cookie sandwich, it’s such a savory, greasy, heavy thing, and adding a bit of lightness, something fruity and sweet, balances it all out,” she said.
What she needed to work with was a base strong enough to hold heavy fillings without collapsing, while maintaining a creamy tenderness. After hundreds of test batches, Ms. Diadem landed on perfection.
But it wasn’t intended for home kitchens anyway. Ms Diadem noted that her recipe was created for the restaurant and has evolved with demand – from two dozen cookies at the start to hundreds now every weekend – and that the ideal cookie depends on the circumstances.
For the home cook who only needs to bake a few, cookies are the way to go. They don’t require cutting the dough (or cleaning up the counter afterwards), but they do develop cracked shells and tender centers similar to Mrs. Diadem’s rolled rounds. I use milk instead of buttermilk in mine for a sweeter cookie, then once they’re baked, introduce some acidity by brushing them with raspberry jam. Store bought works great, but my fresh version comes together in a pan in less than 10 minutes and tastes especially good when the salt pork is slid into the sandwich. Strawberry jam offers a simpler sweetness that is always welcome.
Whichever spread you choose, you’ll want to use American cheese, like Ms. Diadem does. It melts in the smooth, stretchy way that only a processed cheese product can and complements the sweet elements of the sandwich with its creamy salty taste.
Whether or not you’re longing for a breakfast cookie sandwich, you’ll feel connected to this playful and comforting dish. “I grew up eating Kraft singles. They have this nostalgia effect,” Ms. Diadem said. “I take a lot of things that remind you of something and then turn them into their own thing. that it provides.