The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Nan's plum bread

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Nan's plum bread

Well, it's Mary's - whoever Mary was - but it's in my nan's old recipe book. Plum bread is a Lincolnshire tradition and has been forever, weirdly it doesn't have plums in it but I like that! We're odd folk. 

I meddled and made do a little but pretty much kept to the recipe and created a delicious little loaf, which took me back to childhood in a Proustian fashion - I thought it deserved to be shared. It's darker than many, I used half dark brown sugar as I remembered the dark colour my Nan's always had, I also soaked the fruit in strong tea overnight before draining and adding to the dough, some recipes do some don't.

The recipe didn't state a rising time or even a knead which I found odd in a yeasted dough so I beat the hell out of it with the paddle in my Kenwood and gave a courtesy half hour for the yeast - I used 10g instant yeast - to get moving.

The long slow cook filled the kitchen with awesome smells and the result made me dribble. Hope you try it, Mary lives on...

Lechem's picture
Lechem

That has no plums in it. Wonderfully eccentric. Gotta love the British way of confusing everyone else. 

Lovely loaf. Bon Appetit. 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Is that plum was a term for all dried fruits? I might make it with plums when they ripen up just to see how it tastes.

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

must try this - hit the post link cause I saw plums - I love plums - but gonna make it for sure :)

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

The recipe makes for a yield big enough for 2 x 2lb loaf tins so if you just want one loaf, half everything. Feel free to add a teaspoon of mixed spice as well, most modern recipes do, although it definitely tastes great without.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'll betcha it was once a plum bread and then for some reason there was  (way back when) a bad plum harvest, frost or some such klima thing.  Then there was a substitution and it tasted so good, it stuck.  Tradition born.  Makes a good story anyway.  :)   

I betcha it would be good with cubed plums too.  I just love a well worn recipe.

Why do you suppose there is yeast, soda and baking powder in the recipe?   

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

I have looked around the internet and there's a lot of conflicting stories on the origins, one firm claims to have invented the loaf in 1901, but there are references in Lincolnshire publications back into the 1800s. Perhaps the modern recipe with general dried fruits was born in 1901? We'll never know I suppose.

With reference the leavening, I have no idea, fear of a flat loaf perhaps, I'm sure one or the others would work fine. I opted for 10g instant yeast, guessing the original quantity would be cake yeast, and a teaspoon bicarb, that worked great. The mystery makes me like it even more.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Perhaps the baking soda was to take away the tartness of the plums (fruit)? 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Although there is a lot of sugar, Lazy suspects perhaps yeast wasn't so reliable back then - see further down the thread? I wonder if Mary even knew haha.

lesbru's picture
lesbru

In the UK, Christmas pudding is often called plum pudding and I don't know of any recipes with plums or prunes in. See this one from no lesser authority than the BBC good food magazine. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1011/plum-pudding    The plot thickens! 

 

lesbru's picture
lesbru

However. Does Little Jack Horner's behaviour suggest there might once have been plums,  back in the mists of time? https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46973

 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

If you ask the right questions

lesbru's picture
lesbru

Bring back the prune! 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

I'm gonna try it with prunes, makes me wonder just how far back plum bread goes?!

lesbru's picture
lesbru

I have made Bertinet's brown bread with prunes from 'Dough'. Not as dark and dense looking as yours but none the less dangerously delicious. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I make plum pudding (it's a Scottish recipe) that indeed has prunes in it, along with all kinds of other dried fruits (some of which are my modifications to the original recipe). I'm not sure about fresh plums in bread. Most of the recipes I've found using fresh plums are for quick breads.

This recipe seems a bit of a hybrid between a yeasted bread and a quick bread. That said, I seem to remember having a recipe for English Muffin bread that had both. The baking soda really gave it a quite different crumb that toasted up wonderfully! Check out this recipe. Maybe it's a British thing from the days when maybe the yeast wasn't so reliable?

mutantspace's picture
mutantspace

I love prunes they've had such bad press...dan leonard had done wonderful prune recipes and here's a great one from the guardian @ https://www.google.ie/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/may/08/how-to-make-perfect-malt-loaf-recipe

lesbru's picture
lesbru

Definitely trying that. Sounds wonderful. Thank you. Hope the extract of malt does as much for me as it did for Tigger. In fact I can remember being given it as a 'tonic' , called Minadex or something like that, as a child in the post war years in the UK. Do people still have tonics? 

Elsasquerino's picture
Elsasquerino

Malt loaf and plum bread, regional variations on a theme no doubt. I love both and will also be trying that one, and lazys link to the English muffin loaf is very intriguing so that's on the list... The ever growing list!! Thanks all.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Plums and their variations have been around humans a long long time.  Link