Feeling fruitty

Any hope on a lie in went out of the window when Mr Ranty remembered that he is meeting up friends to go go-karting this morning – at 9 am in Slough. 9 am!!! 9 am shouldn’t even exist on a Saturday morning. Alarm goes off at 7, Mr Ranty out of the door at 7:30 and I’ve managed to get another hour of sleep, before the kitties decided that its time to me to get up and feed them – oh well, might as well make myself useful.

While my corn loaf is baking (see previous post), I am gonna make up a fruit loaf. This is another one of my own recipes, I made it up a couple of months ago, and the results have been really good so far, but as usual, I am gonna try and mess up the recipe even more :)
I love the smell of fruity, spicy toast in the morning, slathered with butter with a cup of hot coffee. I haven’t managed to find a bread spicy and fruity enough, so I’ve decided to make my own.

Spicy and Fruity Loaf

250 g starter (100% hydration)
260 g water
40 g whiskey / cognac / brandy
300 g white four
200 g wholemeal flour
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
60 g orange marmalade
4 Tbsp wholemeal flour
200 g raisings / currants
40 g unsalted butter, softened

Combine starter, water, alcohol, white and wholemeal four together, mix on speed 1 for 6 minutes. Again, I use KitchenAid, but you can mix that dough by hand, kneading on a counter for about 10 minutes. The dough is going to be quite wet, don’t be tempted to add too much flour to it, if you don’t feel comfortable working with such a sticky dough, I would suggest oiling your hands and your kitchen counter with a bit of sunflower or olive oil to prevent the dough from sticking.

I use Armenian cognac – “Ararat” that I’ve picked up during my last trip to Moscow. In Russia they drink this stuff in shots, with a slice of lemon covered in sugar on the side. Do try it – its … interesting :) its kind of thing you would do at the end of the night, when you ran out of all the good stuff and in the mood for something alcoholic – in other words, a perfect drink to use for making bread.

Leave the dough for 20 minutes to autolise, before you add the rest of the ingredients.
Oh NO!!!!! Salt!!! I forgot the salt, didn’t I – aaarrggggghhh!!! Back in a bit …
Right, where was I, add salt, spices, fruit, marmalade and the extra flour.
Cover dried fruit with boiling water to re-hydrate it, leave it for about 5 minutes, drain the water and leave to dry for about 20 minutes, before adding it to the dough.
This is the first time I am using marmalade in this loaf – normally I would just use 60 g brown sugar, but I’ve decided to use up the last of this year’s batch of my home-made orange marmalade and I am adding a bit of flour to the dough to keep the hydration levels in check.
Mix everything on speed 2 for two minutes, add softened butter and mix for another minute, until you get an even texture.
The dough is still going to be sticky, don’t worry, it will come together at the end.

Do four stretch and folds over the next two hours and then leave it to proof for another four – five hours at room temperature.
Shape a loaf – I went for an oval shape this time – make sure that you flour your banneton generously, the dough is going to be quite sticky, cover with plastic and retard in the fridge for five to six hours or overnight.
Take the dough out of the fridge, leave to warm up at room temperature for one to two hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 200C, bake for 40 minutes with steam, rotating the loaf half way through. When I say steaming, I don’t mean proper industrial oven steaming, although I would LOVE to be able to do that. All I do is put a shallow baking pan on the bottom of the oven while the oven is pre-heating. I usually preheat my oven about an hour before I want to bake to make sure that its nice and hot. When I place the loaf in, I also pour half a cup of water in the baking pan at the bottom of the oven and leave it there for the whole duration of the baking process.

I cannot describe the smell of the bread while it was baking – fruity, spicy, zesty and a bit Christmas-y, so SO lovely. The loaf came out dark brown, and very light, even with all the fruit in it.

It is such a beautiful loaf!! It never lasts very long in my house, a very popular choice for breakfast and I give at least half of it away to friends, they love it too. Its quite dark inside too, all the currants giving the colour to the crumb, it would be lighter if you were to use golden raisins, and I have done that before, its amazing how difference in fruit impacts the flavour and the colour of the bread.
Can’t wait to try it, that’s my breakfast for tomorrow sorted.


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