This easy and delicious Fruit Loaf is perfect at breakfast, whether served warm or toasted. Make a double batch and keep one loaf in the freezer!
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 Orange & Ginger Marmalade. 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 🙂
For a printable recipe, please scroll down.
Recipe adapted from Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
- Prep Time: 30 mins plus proving time
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Serves 3-4
- 55 g (2 oz) butter
- 1 3/4 teaspoon easy-blend yeast (i.e. yeast which does NOT need to be activated) or dried yeast (i.e. yeast which needs to be activated)
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) milk, warm
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 350 g (12 oz) strong white bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 egg, beaten
- 50 g (2 oz) dried apricots, chopped
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz) raisins
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and leave to cool slightly.
- If you are using dried yeast, add the dried yeast and sugar to the warm milk. Leave the mixture in a warm place for about 5 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- If you are using easy-blend yeast, you can simply add the yeast to the flour in the next step.
- Place the flour, salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the melted butter, yeast mixture and egg. (If you are using easy blend yeast, add the sugar and warm milk as well).
- Mix everything together until the dough is smooth. This will take about 6-8 minutes using the dough hook, or a bit longer by hand.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with some butter or vegetable oil.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a clean teatowel and set it aside somewhere warm for about 60 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
- If you don’t have a warm place in your kitchen, turn your oven on to the lowest possible heat (e.g. 50°C or 120°F), cover the bowl with a clean teatowel and leave the bowl in the oven for the required time.
- Meanwhile, soak the raisins and dried apricots in some hot water. After about 45 minutes, drain the dried fruit and dry with some kitchen paper.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, use your hands to punch it and knock it back.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
- Knead the dried fruit into the dough.
- Roll or flatten the dough into a rectangular shape, about the same width as your loaf tin, and about 1 cm or 1/2 inch thick.
- Roll up the dough and tuck in the ends.
- Lightly grease the loaf tin.
- Place the dough in the tin with the seam-side down.
- Cover the dough with a clean teatowel and leave the tin in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Place the loaf tin in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is lightly golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Cool the loaf on a wire rack.
- The bread can be served warm, or wrapped in a teatowel and sliced over the next few days.
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.
- Serving Size: 4
- Calories: 487
- Sugar: 21.2g
- Sodium: 275.7mg
- Fat: 15.3g
- Carbohydrates: 76.4g
- Fiber: 3.5g
- Protein: 12.7g
- Cholesterol: 80.7mg