Ever since I made Hot Cross Buns and realised they weren’t nearly as difficult as I had thought, I have been really keen to try out all sorts of sweet yeast recipes. I was invited over to a friend’s for an early morning coffee and wanted to take something with me, but it was going to be a bit early for cupcakes!
I found this recipe in Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake” and I think I am going to be slowly working my way through the book. The great thing about yeast recipes is you can make your bread the evening before and put it in the fridge at the final stage. It will very slowly prove overnight. In the morning, take it out of the fridge to let it warm up a little while the oven heats up. And 20 minutes or so later you have fresh bread.
The great thing about this recipe is you get two loaves: one for you and one for your friend.
It seems to be a very forgiving recipe: my dough was way too wet, maybe because I used three large eggs instead of 3 medium or maybe I just measured the liquid wrong as it really shouldn’t have been as wet as it was. I added some extra flour but it was still very wet and I thought I would leave it as it was and see what happened.
I had to use my dough scraper in an attempt to knock the air out as it would have been impossible to use my hands. I used two small roasting dishes instead of baking trays for the loaves just in case the dough went sideways. I didn’t want to end up with sweet bread that looked like a pizza! The trays contained the dough well and the finished loaves came out looking relatively loaf-like.
500g strong white bread flour
10g instant yeast
40g butter. softened, or margarine
50g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
160ml warm milk
60g chopped dried apricots
60g mixed peel
½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
100g sieved icing sugar
2-3 teaspoons of water
Zest of a lemon (optional)
If you have a mixer with a dough hook it is advisable to use it: it is a rich, sticky dough.
Put the flour into the mixer bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other.
Add the butter, sugar, eggs and three quarters of the liquid and begin mixing on low speed.
As the dough comes together add the remaining liquid.
Mix on medium speed for five minutes.
Add the dried fruit, mixed peel and cinnamon if using and mix again for two minutes.
Cover the bowl and leave until at least doubled in size.
Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold inwards repeatedly until all of the air has been knocked out. Divide into two pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball and put each loaf onto the prepared trays.
Put each tray into a clean plastic bag. At this stage it can either be left to prove for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size; or it can go into the fridge overnight.
Heat the oven to 210°C and when the dough is ready bake for around 20 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack.
For the icing, mix the icing sugar and enough water to get the consistency of a batter. Add the lemon zest if using. Brush the icing over the tops of the loaves while they are still warm:
You can see from the picture that I added some extra water to the icing for the second loaf as I think I had let the loaves cool a little too much before doing the icing and it was quite difficult to spread. Thicker is better!
Although they weren’t an out and out success during any of the steps I was really pleased with how good the bread tasted. It is a deliciously light, sweet loaf. The icing is really there more for looks as it definitely doesn’t need any extra sugar. I left the cinnamon out as I didn’t want the bread to taste like hot cross buns and I think that was a good decision. I would have used the lemon zest with the icing if I had had a lemon.
I will definitely be making this again!