Oneeda's Kitchen Blog

Christmas Plum Bread

Posted on: May 1, 2010

1-1/2 0.6-oz cakes fresh yeast (25g)*
1 cup (200g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1-3/4 cups (400ml) mixed lukewarm milk and water
7 cups (800g) organic unbleached white bread flour, warmed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup (150g) butter, diced
1-1/2 cups (225g) currants
1-1/2 cups (225g) golden raisins
2 tablespoons (25g) finely chopped mixed candied peel
1 large egg
2 loaf pans, 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches, well greased

Crumble the yeast into a bowl, and stir in 1 tablespoon of the sugar and about a third of the milk mixture. Leave in a warm spot while preparing the rest of the mixture.

Mix the warm flour with the salt and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub in using the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the rest of the sugar, the fruit, and the chopped peel. Beat the egg into the rest of the milk mixture and add to the bowl with the yeast liquid. Mix to make a very soft and slightly sticky dough. If the dough is stiff and hard to work, add a little more liquid; if it is very sticky work in a little more flour.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until elastic and silky-textured. Return the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, or put the bowl into a large plastic bag. Leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size — about 2 hours.

Punch down the risen dough to deflate, then turn out onto a work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Gently shape each piece into a neat loaf to fit your pans. Put the dough into the pans, cover, and leave to rise as before until almost doubled in size — about 1 hour.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover the loaves and bake for about 40 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when unfolded and tapped underneath. Turn out of the pans and cool on a wire rack, then wrap and keep for a day before slicing and eating spread with butter.

The bread is best eaten within a week. Once thoroughly cooled, it can be frozen for up to a month.


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