3 - 4 HOURS
This British fruit loaf is always a success! Packed full with many sweet ingredients, these fruit breads are just amazing when toasted and chunks of butter are smothered on top. I use a fruit soaker and show how to incorporate delicate ingredients into bread making.
A proper British tea time bread delight! Makes 3 small loaves, any extras can be frozen or given as gifts!
How to make fruit bread with a video tutorial
For the fruit soaker:
40g Brandy or rum
150g Glace cherries
50g Mixed peel
125g Flaked Almonds
For the dough:
500g White bread flour
250g Fresh whole milk (or 230g semi-skimmed and 20g double cream)
15g Fresh yeast (8g active-dried)
40g Caster sugar
150g Egg (3 medium)
60g Butter, softened
For the eggwash:
A pinch of salt
Method to make fruit loaves
Toast the almonds
Select a baking tray, pour the almonds in it and spread them out so they are evenly distributed. Toast the almond flakes under the grill for a couple of minutes, be careful to prevent them from burning.
Prepare the fruit soaker
Take a small mixing bowl and add the dried fruit and most of the almonds (leave a few to top the loaves with) to a bowl. Chuck in the brandy or rum, stir with a spoon, cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight (10-16 hours).
Weigh the ingredients and get ready!
The next day weigh the remaining ingredients. If you are using dried yeast, follow the instructions below. Otherwise, first weigh the milk and the yeast, combine in a bowl and whisk until there are no lumps. Except the butter and the dried fruit soaker, put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl or dough mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
Slowly knead the ingredients
Set a 6 minute timer and use a dough scraper to gently combine the ingredients. When the bowl is starting to hinder the kneading technique, remove the dough onto a workbench. Slow kneading using a slow, stretching technique until the timer sounds.
Mix at a slow speed for 7 minutes and skip step 5.
Rest in the refrigerator
Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover and put in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Knead quickly and add the fat
Remove from the fridge and set the timer for 6 minutes. Fast knead using the stretch and slap technique. Once the timer sounds, put the dough back in the bowl and add the butter. Mash the dough into the fat with your hand to encourage them to incorporate. When combined, take the dough back on to the table and knead as fast as you can for 2 minutes.
increase the speed and mix for a further 4 minutes then add the butter a few pieces at a time. Mix till incorporated which will take around 2 minutes.
Now add the fruit
Put the dough back in the bowl and add the fruit soaker. Gently massage the fruit and dough together with both hands to try and get an even distribution of the fruit.
Drop the mixer to slow speed and add the fruit soaker. Mix this on slow for 1-2 minutes until the fruit is distributed fairly. Be careful not to over mix and smash the fruit up.
Start the first rise
Using a dough scraper, remove the dough from the mixer and place in a lightly floured bowl. Take a temperature reading of the dough, if the dough temperature is over 26C, place the bowl in the fridge, if the temperature is cooler, it can be left on the worktop. Wherever it goes, cover it with a carrier bag or plastic wrap to stop it drying out.
Stretch and fold
After 45 minute, take the dough out of the bowl and drop onto the worktop. Complete a stretch and fold on the dough, or give it a gentle knead with your hands for 30 seconds.
Continue the first rise
Pop the dough back in the bowl, take a temperature reading and cover again. Leave to bulk ferment again in either the fridge or the side for another 45 minutes.
Dust flour on a surface and turn the dough out on it. Using a metal dough scraper and some scale, divide the dough into 485g dough pieces.
Round into balls and leave to bench rest for 10-15 minutes. Lightly grease the baking tins with vegetable oil or butter.
Shaping into loaves
Flatten a dough piece to remove some of the gas, tuck the edges in and roll into a cylinder and place in the tins with the seam facing downwards. Now do the same to the others.
The final rise
Proof for 2 ½ hours, or until the dough is poking up above the tins and the dough is touching the rim of the tin. Preheat the oven to 230C (450F) with a baking stone.
Crack an egg in a bowl and whisk with a pinch of salt. Use a brush to apply the egg wash on top of the loaves.
Bake in the oven at 220C (430F) for 30 minutes without adding steam. A nice dark colour should appear on the surface. Once baked, remove from the oven using oven gloves. To get the loaves out of the tins, turn them upside down and give a gentle tap.
For the glaze, melt some apricot jam in a pan, adding a drop of water to thin it. Quickly, use a pastry brush to paste the glaze over the breads and sprinkle the leftover almonds on top and cool. You can sieve icing sugar over them once they are cool - if you want.
Using dried yeast
If using instant yeast, divide the amount of fresh yeast used by 3 and use the same method as fresh yeast. Active dried yeast needs to be activated before use. In this case, warm the milk using 10 second bursts in the microwave until it reaches 35C (95F) - no higher. Add the dried yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to the milk, whisk and leave for 10 minutes to bloom. Add the yeasty milk to the recipe.
Top tips for the best British fruit loaf
If you do not have a pastry brush, take a piece of kitchen roll and fold over itself a few times. Dip the paper in the glaze and use it to spread it over the bread.
Make rolls with this recipe also, plus for more indulgence, top with white icing for the ultimate fruited, sweet buns! Amazing...
To make more or less of this bread, use the bakers formula that is found under the ingredients list. This spreadsheet allows you to input the desired amount of dough and works out how much you need of each ingredient!