If I had to choose my favourite meal of the day, it might have to be breakfast. But having just said that, those close to me might sneer and jest, for the truth is, I often value sleep too much to be bothered with breakfast. When faced with a busy agenda at the office, I’m often frantically heading out of the door on an empty stomach, only able to face food once I have turned on the computer at work to see what fires I need to extinguish that day. Then it’s a quick dash to the work canteen for a comforting cup of coffee and either a croissant or muffin which I will inevitably finish on the walk back to my office. This is in contrast to my more sensible and calm husband who takes the time each morning to sit down to a large mug of tea, a generous portion of bread with jam or compote, followed by a piece of fruit, all the while (seemingly leisurely) reading the day’s newspaper.
Having recently taken a break from work, I have suddenly discovered how important breakfast is, not just in terms of preparing the body nutritionally for the long day ahead, but also psychologically; when I feel I have eaten well at breakfast, suddenly I am happier and am full of positive energy to face whatever the day brings. Breakfast, for me, was previously a meal which I only embraced on the weekends. But having now learnt the error of my ways, I now find myself planning for breakfast in much the same way as I plan for lunch or dinner. And perhaps what makes breakfast such a nice time of day to sit down and eat is that it seems to be a meal where one can sit down to something sweet and call it a breakfast if a cup of tea or coffee is nearby
Growing up in Australia, a typical breakfast for me before heading to school was either a bowl of Weetbix, some toast smeared with butter and Vegemite, or some toasted fruit bread with a generous slather of butter and perhaps some marmelade. As my parents ran a bakery when I was a child, there was always a loaf of fresh bread at home at breakfast, still warm from the oven which my mother would bring home after her early morning shift, in time to drop me off for the bus to school.
To this day, some toast at breakfast with a large mug of Earl Grey tea is a simple pleasure for me. Add a soft-boiled egg or two and I am in heaven. Or perhaps replace the toast with a croissant or a brioche (or a chocolate-truffle stuffed brioche!) and I am skipping.
When Caroline from The Patterned Plate recently blogged about her favourite recipes from Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, I was instantly drawn to the Fruit Loaf. Actually, the truth is, I am drawn to EVERYTHING that Caroline makes! She recently asked if I could do a guest post on her blog while she took some time off under the sun in Spain, and I had to confess in that post to almost stalking Caroline at times because her enthusiasm for certain recipes can be infectious! Caroline has been a true champion of Warm Bread and Honey Cake, a book which is full of fantastic baking recipes but which I couldn’t find myself getting into until Caroline gave me the nudge I needed.
And this Fruit Loaf called out to me because, quite frankly, I couldn’t remember the last time I had had toasted fruit bread for breakfast. As with most food memories associated with growing up in Australia, I was excited to try this recipe because sliced fruit bread is hard to find in Switzerland. Well, not the sort that Aussies are used to anyway. The result was a surprisingly easy-to-make loaf of bread which was wonderfully delicious. I’m so happy that my first foray into Warm Bread and Honey Cake was such a success – be prepared for more posts from this beautiful book
Recipe adapted from Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
Makes 1 loaf
This is a very simple fruit loaf – think white bread studded with dried fruit. But given it’s simplicity, it lends itself well to any personal variations which you desire. In terms of dried fruit, the original recipe calls for:
100 g / 3 1/2 oz currants
55 g / 2 oz sultanas (golden raisins)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon candied orange peel
I like my fruit bread with more bread to dried fruit ratio, so I reduced the quantities of dried fruit in this recipe and restricted it to only raisins and dried apricots the first time I made it. On the second occasion, I added raisins and chopped dried figs. You can also spice up the bread with some ground cinnamon and/or cardamon. Really, the variations are quite up to you.
As with most bread recipes, this particular recipe calls for strong white flour. Strong white flour contains more gluten, giving bread that wonderful elastic texture when baked. However, as you will see from the discussion between some foodie friends on my Facebook page, it seems that normal plain flour (or all-purpose flour) works really well here too.