I often have fruit bread at a cafe when I do not want something very sweet.
I decided to make my own as many of the fruit loaves have preservatives and colouring in them. I also made them free style loaves, however these could be made in a bread maker if you want to save time.
You could also make them in bread loaf tins, but I think making them free style makes them look more authentic and rustic.
It was quite expensive to make as I had to buy several packets of dried fruit, however it was far superior to the bought ones.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus proofing time
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 2 loaves
Ingredients 100 g sultanas
100 g dates, chopped
100 g dried apricots, I bought chopped ones
100 g figs, chopped
2 tbsp rum or brandy or slightly more
60 g unsalted butter
240 ml full cream milk
7 g sachet yeast
500 g bread flour
2 tsp salt
35 g caster sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp cinnamon
125 g flaked almonds
½ tsp all spice
Zest of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 oranges
1 egg for top of bread
Soak all of the fruit in the brandy.
In a saucepan, put the butter and milk and heat until the butter melts. Do NOT let it boil or it will be too hot, and will kill the yeast - just cook till the butter melts properly.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
Make a well in the middle and add the milk slowly, and then the beaten eggs.
This will be quite sticky at first, but if you knead it, it will become not so sticky.
Knead it for about 15 minutes, preferably on the bench top with no flour.
Dough should have this smooth look now
You COULD use a dough hook and an electric mixer if you prefer, but kneading is part of the fun of making bread!
Put it in the large bowl and let sit in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
It is winter in Australia, and as I have had failures previously because it was not warm enough, I turned the oven heat to VERY low, and turned it off before putting the bread in.
I also added a small jug of boiling water in the oven and changed this a few times.
Meanwhile spread the almonds on some baking paper, and bake in a preheated 200°/180° fan forced oven until they are golden brown.
Allow to cool.
When the dough is double the size take it out.
Add the nuts to the soaked fruit, and also add the citrus zest.
Put this mixture onto the dough.
Knead for a minute or two or until the fruit is fairly even throughout the dough.
Divide the dough into two and shape each one into a rough ball shape.
Place each ball onto a tray lined with baking paper.
Whisk the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush across each loaf of bread.
Cut a deep hole lengthwise in each loaf down the middle, and put on baking paper on a tray.
Put a tea towel over these, and put once again in a warm place, for about 30 minutes. I did the same with the oven and the hot water.
Preheat the oven to 200°/180° fan forced.
After 30 minutes, take off the towel and bake the fruit loaves for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown, and feel hollow when you tap them.
Serve with thick butter.
I sliced mine thickly and put them in the freezer so I can take a slice or two out at a time.