This is a loaf that gets made again and again in this house. Ingredients wise it’s not too different from the hot cross buns or the spiced fruit buns that I have posted about before. I think, though, that this loaf is perhaps a little quicker to make as you add marmalade and so there is no need to zest and squeeze fruit. There is also something very satisfying about having a loaf that you can keep going back to and cutting a bit more off. It is lovely when it’s still vaguely warm from the oven, spread with butter, but it’s just as nice toasted the next day for breakfast ( or mid morning, or lunch, or all three).
The recipe is an adaptation of the Raisin Bread recipe in The River Cottage Family Cookbook (ISBN 0 340 82636 3). You can use any combination of dried fruit that you like or have available as long as it totals 150g.
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp mixed spice
7g easy action yeast
2 scant teaspoons fine salt
40g dried blueberries
125 ml warm water
125ml warm milk ( I tend to use just boiled water on top of the cold milk and that gets the temperature about right, you want it hand hot)
2 tbsp marmalade
For the glaze:
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
(Or you could glaze with a couple of tablespoons of warmed honey)
If you have a freestanding mixer then all you do is put all of the ingredients into the bowl and using the dough hook mix on speed 2 for two minutes. Turn it out of the bowl and manhandle into a ball. Place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours until it has doubled in size.
If you are mixing by hand, then put the flour, yeast, dried fruit, mixed spice and salt into a bowl. Measure the milk and water in a jug and beat in the egg. Add the liquid and the marmalade to the flour and using a flat knife such as a pallette knife, begin to mix together. When it is all combined, tip it out onto a lightly floured worktop and begin to knead. To do this you hold half the dough down with one fist and stretch the other half away from you with the heel of your other hand. Fold the dough back onto itself, turn and repeat the process for about ten minutes or until your arms fall off, whichever is the soonest. Make it into a ball shape and place into a bowl and cover with a large plastic bag until doubled in size.
Grease a loaf tin with butter. Take off the plastic bag and gently press the air out of the dough using your fingertips. Lift the dough out of the bowl and shape into a log shape by stretching and folding. Be gentle though. Place the dough into the loaf tin and cover again for 20-30 minutes until it has risen by about half its size again.
Place in preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7 or the Roasting Oven of the Aga for about twenty – thirty minutes until golden and sounds hollow when turned out and tapped on its base. Take the loaf out of its tin and place on a wire rack.
Just before the end of the cooking time, put the sugar and water for the glaze in a small pan over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Brush the glaze over the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven and is sitting on the wire rack.
Allow to cool before taking your first slice.