Here’s a lovely fruity, nutty bread that’s soft and sweet – just like a nice brioche, but it’s a lot easier and a lot quicker.
Makes: 2 medium loaves, about 10 slices each
Time: About 40 – 45 minutes hands-on. 90 + 45 minutes proofing time. 25 minutes baking. (Yes, it seems a long time, but most of it can be spent doing other things.)
Level: Moderately easy
Need: A stand mixer will be very useful, but not essential
- 400g/14oz strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g/1½ tsp instant yeast
- 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
- 50g/1¾oz butter, softened
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 200ml/7fl oz milk or buttermilk
- 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds
- 75g/2½oz cherries*
- 75g/2½oz dried apricots
* I used frozen cherries, which may have had a greater water content than fresh ones.
1. Mix together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. (Keep the salt and yeast apart before mixing in.) Mix in the softened butter and beaten egg.
2. Gradually add the milk or buttermilk and mix to form a dough, which should be soft but not over wet.
3. Knead (8 – 10 minutes in a stand mixer; around 15 minutes by hand) Place in an oiled bowl and turn it over a few times then cover and leave until it has doubled in volume – about 90 minutes in a warm kitchen.
4. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back. Stretch or roll it out and add in the remaining ingredients, ensuring a good even distribution. Fold them in and divide the dough into two equal parts. Form into ball shapes, pulling the surface taught using cupped hands.
5. Place the dough balls on a lined baking sheet and place inside a large plastic bag, such as a kitchen bin liner. Leave to rise again – about an hour.
6. Put a baking tray or baking stone in the oven on the middle shelf and turn the oven on to 220°C / Fan 200°C / 425°F / Gas 7.
7. Bake the loaves for about 20 – 25 minutes. After 15 minutes be prepared to cover them with foil if they are becoming too dark.
8. Check for a hollow sound when tapped then place on a wire rack to cool.
I wish you every success with your bread making. I hope you bake this one and enjoy eating it. For lots more of my bread recipes click here.
Here are some that I hope you try:
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A later addition
Some time after the original loaves I made a nice batch of rolls. The ingredients list was virtually the same with only two slight changes: I used glace cherries and half a beaten egg to glaze the rolls. Once I’d added the cherries, nuts and apricots to the dough after the first prove I weighed it and then divided it to make 12 rolls. (The baked rolls were quite small, so maybe divide by eight if you want big rolls.) I cut each one with three short slashes. The baking time was 12 – 15 minutes, but keep a close eye on them as they darken very quickly.
NB I’ve referred to these rolls as semi-sweet, which I like, but for a sweeter version you could increase the sugar, maybe by 50%.