Spiced apricot and sultana bread

I was feeling the urge to make bread, having failed to exercise my kneading muscles for almost two months. Following is a recipe derived from one for currant bread. I’ve adapted it to my own tastes (not a big fan of currants), and because the original recipe was just plain wrong! This recipe makes two loaves and toasts really well for a delicious start to the day.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons of malt extract
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (honey is fine to use instead)
50 grams of butter
450 grams of white bread flour
0.25 teaspoon of ground cloves
0.25 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon of ground ginger
(spices can be substituted with 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, if preferred)
10 grams fast acting dried yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
125 grams dried apricots
50 grams sultanas
2 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons of castor sugar

Method
1. Grease loaf tins an set aside.

2. Gently melt butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Mix in the honey. Remove saucepan from the heat and gradually add the malt extract, quickly stirring it into the mixture as you do so. You need to be really careful because the malt can form hard lumps rather than a anion paste. If this happens, make sure to remove these before using this mixture otherwise you’ll end up with unpleasant crunchy bits of malt throughout your bread. When these ingredients are fully combined, set aside the mixture to cool.

3. Sift flour and spices together into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix the yeast into the milk, then stir this into the cooled malt mixture. Pour the liquid into the well and gradually combine to form a dough.

4. Turn out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes. I’m experimenting with not flouring my kneading surface at the moment. The way I see it, this is just adding an unknown amount of flour to the dough, bringing an element of unpredictability to the final product.

5. Once the dough is the right consistency, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1.5 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

6. Meanwhile roughly chop the apricots until they are about the same size as the sultanas. When the dough has risen sufficiently turn it out and knock it back, then knead in the apricots and sultanas. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves, then place one in each of the tins. Cover with cling film and leave to proof in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough rises to the top of the tins.

7. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200˚C. When the dough has risen sufficiently, place the tins in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

8. Meanwhile mix the milk and sugar into a thin paste to form a glaze. When the bread is cooked turn it out on a wire rack, place them the right way up and brush on the glaze immediately. Allow to cool sufficiently for the glaze to harden, then slice and serve warm spread with butter.

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