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CUMBRIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD

January 10, 2015

I know the season has passed but I just discovered this recipe last week from a tweet by Delicious Magazine and with a little alteration to the fruit content (I didn’t have raisins or currants) thought it would be a nice fruit bread to prepare for Twelfth Night. It was so good that I decided to make it again this weekend and share the recipe as I did it. Perhaps I’ll have to rename it as I think it’s going to be a regular favourite and not just for Christmas.

INGREDIENTS

60g chopped glacé cherries
80g sultanas
35g mixed peel (I use Suma it’s unbelievably good!)
3 tbsp brandy

For the ferment

17.5g fresh yeast or 6g active dried yeast or 7g fast action yeast
10g caster sugar
75g strong white bread flour
150ml warm water
100ml milk

For the dough

400g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 medium free-range egg
1 tbsp black treacle
40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little
Vegetable oil for greasing

METHOD

1. In a bowl soak the fruit and peel in the brandy for at least 2 hours.

Soak the fruits

Soak the fruits

2. For the ferment, sift the yeast (if dry) sugar and flour into a bowl, then whisk in the water and milk until you have a smooth batter. Cover with a lid or cling film and leave to ferment for 30-45 minutes or until risen and puffy.

Pre-ferment

Pre-ferment

3. For the dough, sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg, treacle, melted butter and the ferment. Mix well until a rough dough is formed (if the dough still seems a little dry after mixing, add a 2 tbsp of water and continue). Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky (by hand or machine – I used my Kitchen Aid). Drain the fruit of any excess liquid and gradually work it into the dough at the very end of the kneading time.

I used my Kitchen Aid

I used my Kitchen Aid

4. Put the dough in a large well-oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 2 hours. The dough should be nicely risen and feel more airy, but will not quite double in size or look like a plain dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and form into an oblong. It is very sticky but with floury hands roll (or fold) like a Swiss roll and place into an oiled bread tin. I found this dough too sticky to form into a round loaf. Leave to prove for about 35-45 minutes.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

6. Bake the loaf for 35-45 minutes, covering with foil if it looks like it is getting too brown. Check if it is done by tapping on its bottom and listening for a hollow sound. Cool fully on a wire rack. Serve spread with lots of butter. Also nice toasted.

Cumbrian Christmas Bread

Cumbrian Christmas Bread

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