Andrew Whitley's Christmas Bread
I am a sucker for fruit breads and decided to try this one. I would highly recommend this recipe, but I had a real issue getting the fruit to be well-dispersed. All of the fruit seem to be on the very top of the loaf which was frustrating. I didn't have fresh yeast so I used 1/2 tsp of instant and then 1/3 cup of fed sourdough starter. I put 5g of starter in the overnight pre-ferment and the rest when I mixed the dough the next day. I decided to make 2 smaller loaves.
Makes: 1 large or 2 small loaves
For the pre-ferment
175g white bread flour
5g fresh yeast
125g water, at about 25°C
For the fruit and nut soaker
100g crystallized ginger, chopped
100g raisins or sultanas
100g dried cranberries
50g pitted dates, chopped
50g dried figs, quartered
100g almonds or Brazil nuts, chopped
50g / 3⅓ tbsp rum, brandy or fruit juice
For the dough
220g white bread flour
100g butter, plus extra for greasing
70g dark brown sugar
100g lightly-beaten egg, (about 2 eggs)
Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together thoroughly, cover and leave in the refrigerator for about 12 hours overnight. Meanwhile, mix the soaker ingredients together in a bowl, substituting similar fruits, nuts and liquid if you wish, according to taste, allergies or simply what you have to hand. Leave this mixture at room temperature for about 12 hours, stirring occasionally.
Mix the dough ingredients into the pre-ferment and knead until the sticky mixture becomes a soft, smooth and glossy dough. Cover and leave at room temperature for 2–3 hours. At this point you can give it a fold and leave it for another hour or so, but this isn’t essential.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a rectangle about 20x25cm. Spread the fruit and nut soaker over almost all the surface. Roll the dough up carefully, turn it through 90 degrees and gently roll it up again, taking care not to force the fruit through the surface. The aim is even distribution, but it is better to leave the dough a bit lumpy than to work it so much that you end up with a mess.
Grease the baking tin (or tins) with butter, shape the dough to fit and place it in the tin(s). Cover and leave to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doesn’t spring back instantly when gently pressed. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas 4.
Bake a large loaf for 45–60 minutes, smaller ones for about 30–40 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown.