Let’s Call it a Fruit Loaf.

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I’m a sucker for a good fruit bread.

On our recent travels down the south coast of NSW we stopped for a coffee and something to eat at the marvellous Heritage Bakery  in Milton. The array of breads and pastries and cakes was magnificent.

I limited myself to only one loaf of something and that something was a fig and cranberry sour dough bread. What a choice it was. It was one of the nicest fruit breads I’ve had in a very long time. Big juicy pieces of fig and little tart cranberries. It was perfect.

No, I haven’t got a recipe for that dreamy fruit loaf, yet…. but I’ll share when I do…

I found this recipe in Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery, which is The Cookbook Guru‘s book of the month.

It’s called Northumbrian Harvest Tea Cake, but once you look at the recipe it’s just a fancy name for Fruit Loaf.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but these days we call it fruit loaf and here’s a simple version of the recipe.

For 1 big loaf you’ll need:-

450g bakers’ Flour

1/2 tsp salt

30g castor sugar

15g dried yeast

150g warm milk

75g warm water

60g butter – melted

1 egg – lightly beaten

40g currants

1 tsp mixed spice or nutmeg

 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, currants and mixed spice.

In a small bowl or jug mix the milk, water and butter together. Make sure it is still warm otherwise the yeast won’t work, then pour into the flour mix with the egg.

Mix until it comes together then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6 – 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Now tip the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes then divide into three equal pieces.

Roll the pieces into a long thin sausage shapes the same length and lay them side by side. Pinch the tops together firmly then braid the lengths.

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Leave on a baking paper lined baking tray in a warm place, loosely covered, for about 40 – 45 minutes.

Bake in a hot 220oC oven for 15 minutes then I found I had to turn the loaf over and cook for another 5 minutes to cook the underside till brown.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before ripping into chunks and devouring.

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At least that’s how it went in our house…

Please Enjoy…

 

 

 

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A Bloomer Loaf or Wholemeal Loaf.

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It was wonderful going for a walk this morning with my sister. The sun was warm but the air had a chill in it. Winter is most definitely here.
Time for warm comfort foods like soups and casseroles and roasts. I had some beef spare ribs in the freezer and today called for a casserole with the ribs and lots of carrots and onions and mushrooms.
The perfect accompaniment to this dish is fresh made bread. Yum.
Elizabeth David’s book English Bread and Yeast Cookery  is The Cookbook Guru‘s book of the month. How handy is that?
While the casserole is cooking away in the oven, warming up the the house – ahhh,  I set about looking for a recipe from the book for a simple loaf.
Well the recipe in the book includes lots of information and a few extra steps that could make the reader think “this is way too involved, I don’t really want to do all that.”  So I’ll use the ingredients and amounts from the book, but I’ll tell you how I made it, which was a lot more straight forward…

For 1 big loaf you’ll need:-
450g wholemeal flour
120g bakers or strong flour
15g dried yeast
20g salt
200g warm milk mixed with 200g warm water (400g total)

In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt and dried yeast. Pour in the milk and water and mix. Once all the ingredients are mixed well, tip it all out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 – 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 2 hours in a warm place.
After 2 hours tip the dough out onto the bench top and knead it for 3 – 4 minutes then put it back into the bowl, cover and leave for an hour. IMG_1254 Now, knead the dough again for 3 – 4 minutes, then shape into a short, thick loaf. IMG_1255 Loosely cover and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, make a few deep slashes across the top then sprinkle a little water. IMG_1257 Bake for 20 minutes at 230oC, then turn the heat down to 200oC and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.

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(If the underside is still soft, turn the bread upside down and let it cook for another 5 – 6 minutes.)

The bread turned out really fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I think the only change I’d make to the ingredients is decreasing the amount of salt by half. It was a little too salty  but overall a great bread to go with the casserole.

Please Enjoy…

Chelsea Buns

I love working with yeast. Mixing and kneading and shaping. The way the dough feels in my hands. It’s very therapeutic. And don’t get me started on the smell of baking bread. It fills the whole house with calm and warmth.
Once you have your basic bread recipe you can do so much with it. Adding different flavourings and seeds or herbs.
I still haven’t gotten into the sourdough side of things though. A baker friend told me how to get a starter dough going, how to feed it and use it but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I’ll try again some day. In fact, I definitely will.
In the mean time, I’ve been going through this months The Cookbook Guru‘s book of choice – Elizabeth David‘s English Bread and Yeast Cookery. There are lots of recipes that take my interest in this book and because there is lots of bread already floating around the house at the moment, I thought I’d start with something sweet.
Chelsea Buns are something I have loved for as long as I can remember so why not take this opportunity to try my hand at making them?

First batch didn’t work out too brilliantly. I had a hard time getting the dough to rise the first time, so I gave up and put it in the fridge (it was getting pretty late in the evening by the time I did give up though) The next morning I took it out and left it on the bench for an hour to come to room temperature.

It’s winter here and our place seems to get really cold so that probably didn’t help with the proving. Anyway, I gave the dough another knead and continued with the recipe. The second prove worked better and the final product turned out okay except I over cooked them.

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Oops. My bad.

Sooooo…

After distributing my near failed first batch of Chelsea Buns to my family I started another batch….

 

To make 12 Chelsea Buns I used:-

Dough:-

275g bakers flour

3g salt

20g castor sugar

115g butter cut into small cubes

80g milk

8g dried yeast

1 egg

Filling:-

40g butter – softened

40g brown sugar

5g mixed spice

50g currants

In a small bowl mix together the butter, sugar and spice until well combined. Set aside.

Glaze:-

1/2 Tbls milk

1 Tbls castor sugar

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Heat the milk to just warm and add the yeast giving it a little stir. Set aside for a few minutes. It should come up all frothy. That means your yeast is alive. Hooray.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter then pour in the milk and yeast. Mix together to form a sticky dough then tip out onto a lightly floured bench top and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put back in the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. It could take and hour, it could take two hours (or, like my first attempt, it could not rise at all but lets not get into that.)

Once it has risen, turn out onto a bench top and give it another knead for a minute or two minutes then roll it out into a rectangle 20cm x 30cm.

Spread with the butter and sugar mix and sprinkle the currants  evenly on top.IMG_1223

Take one of the shorter ends and fold it 3/4 over the rest of the dough and then bring the other end over to cover this.IMG_1243

IMG_1244Now turn the whole thing a quarter turn so that the long side is closest to you. (Gee, I hope that made some sense.)

Carefully roll out again to the original size rectangle (20 x 30 cm)

Now roll the dough tightly into a sausage shape starting from the long sides.IMG_1226

Phew, glad that’s over….

Cut into 12 equal pieces and place them a little apart on a baking paper lined baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand.

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Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to rise (or until doubled in size)

When ready, bake in a 210oC oven for 15 minutes until lovely and brown.

Heat the milk and sugar for the glaze until the sugar has melted and brush over the warm buns.

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Then they’re ready…

Let them cool down slightly before gorging on them (though I didn’t). It’s just good manners right???

Yay for batch number two…

Enjoy…