Sunday, September 1, 2013

Miss Kitty Bakes: spiced apple cider fruit bread

Mr K is a fairly undemanding spouse. When I asked him what he wanted me to bake him for Father's Day, he said immediately: "a loaf of bread."

"A loaf of bread? Just a loaf of bread? Not a cake, or something, I don't know... Challenging?"

"Yes. A loaf of bread," he replied.

So a loaf of bread it was. However, knowing him and his likes, I decided to make it a little more special than just your average white loaf. He has a soft spot for my hot cross buns, so I thought I might make something like that but in a loaf form.

I adapted a recipe from one of my newest cookbook acquisitions, the Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook. It's actually a really great book, full of good tips and hints and excellent recipes for everyone from the basic baker through to the most polished of patissiers.I really enjoyed the TV show and have already earmarked a number of the recipes to try at home.

This is a fairly easy bread to make. the dough is quite stiff in the beginning but it does rise well. The main changes I made to the recipe include substitution of fruit (we had no currants and we don't like mixed peel) and upping the spice levels. We have been nibbling away at it for most of the morning - the heady cinnamon and spice smell in the house keep drawing us back to the loaf. It would be fabulous toasted, but frankly, I don't think it's going to last that long here.

And Mr K's all important verdict? Delicious. That says it all, really.

Miss Kitty's spiced apple cider fruit bread
(adapted from this recipe)

¾ cup raisin
¾ cup sultanas
335ml bottle of dry apple cider, warmed (I used Monteith’s Apple Cider)
3½ cups white bread flour
Zest of one orange
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the warm cider while you measure out the other ingredients. Add the flour, spices, zest and yeast to a warm bowl and make a well in the centre. Strain the cider from the fruit, reserving the fruit. Add the liquid to the dry mixture. Knead well (15—20 minutes by hand or about 7-8 minutes in a kitchenaid) until the dough is stretchy. Add a little more water (2-3 tablespoons) if the dough doesn’t come together. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size — about 45—60 minutes. I popped my dough back into the Kitchenaid bowl and into a sink half filled with warm water – our kitchen was cold this morning.

Knock back the dough and add the fruit. Knead until the fruit is evenly distributed. Shape into an oval loaf and place on the baking tray. Cover with baking paper and a clean tea towel and prove a second time for 30 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C. Dust the loaf with flour and score it with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack and eat slathered in good butter.

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