Easter sweet spiced fruit bread

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Enjoy the flavours of Easter all year round with this delicious fruit bread from Yorkshire food writer Elly McCausland.

I love it toasted and slathered with butter for breakfast.

You can use a bread machine on a dough setting to do all the kneading and the first rise. If it has a function to add the fruit even better, as they can be slippery little devils to incorporate.
The dough will be rather tacky when you turn it out but just dust it with a little flour to make it manageable.

Elly plaits her loaf but I prefer to pop my dough in a greased 2lb loaf tin. If you go for the tin option it will require longer baking time as mentioned in the instructions.

EASTER SWEET SPICED FRUIT BREAD
Makes 1 large loaf

INGREDIENTS:

400ml of hot tea (Earl grey is good)
100g of sultanas
100g of currants
80g of mixed peel (optional)
250ml of semi-skimmed milk, plus 1 tsp extra for glazing
50g of unsalted butter
250g of white bread flour
275g of plain flour
50g of golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice
2 teaspoon salt
7g of fast-action dried yeast
1 large egg
2 tbsp of sesame seeds

METHOD:

Put the dried fruit and mixed peel (if using) in a bowl. Pour in the tea and set aside to soak while you make the bread dough.

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter together and heat until the butter melts. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand, mix the flours, caster sugar and spices. Place the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other side

When the butter/milk mixture has cooled to body temperature, beat the egg in a small bowl. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the beaten egg, and add the rest to the milk and butter

Add the egg and butter mixture to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough. Knead for 10 minutes either by hand or with a food mixer fitted with a dough hook

The dough will be quite wet, so keep persevering until it becomes manageable. Return the dough to a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size

Drain the soaked fruit (discard the tea). Add the fruit to the dough and knead well until evenly distributed. If doing this by hand, it helps to scatter the fruit over the flattened dough and fold the dough up around it like a parcel, then keep kneading to spread the fruit throughout the dough.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long cylinder, about 30–35cm long and 5cm wide. Put each strand next to each other vertically in front of you, leaving a small gap between each

Squash the top of the strands together, then plait them. To do this, cross the left strand over the middle, then the right strand over the middle and repeat until all the dough is plaited

Squash the end nearest you together, then tuck both squashed ends slightly under the loaf to neaten it up

Carefully transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and leave to rise again for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size

Preheat the oven 200°C/gas mark 6. Place a baking dish filled with water in the bottom of the oven.

Add 1 tsp of milk to the reserved beaten egg and mix to combine. Brush this all over the risen loaf (be gentle – you don’t want to knock the air out). Scatter the loaf with sesame seeds and place in the centre of the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 180°C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20–25 minutes,  (40-45 minutes if it is in a bread tin), until the bread is shiny and golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Slice and serve with butter.

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