Nothing is better on a cold winters day than a slice of hot buttered fruit bread. This loaf was inspired by a dark and dense fruit bread I once had from Cumbrian bakers Staff of Life. Instead of being soft and rich, like you would expect of a fruity loaf, it was dark and dense, which made for a real adult treat. The rye flour I have used creates a similar texture, also adding a distinctive nutty flavour.
This recipe makes two small loaves. Pop one in the freezer when it has cooled down. It will keep fresh in there for about a month (just make sure you wrap it well in a freezer bag). Simply bake it straight from frozen, when you are ready to enjoy, at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes.
For the sponge:
250g rye flour
7g dried yeast
For the Loaves:
250g strong white flour
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
300g mixture of raisins, sour cherries, almonds (I used almond halves) and chopped dates.
Make the sponge by combining the rye flour, yeast and water in a large bowl.
Cover with a tea towel and leave for at least 6 hours, until it has risen and has lots of little bubbles covering the surface.
When the sponge is ready, add the white flour, salt, oil and fruit and nuts. Combine until you get a soft dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Remove from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth.
Return to the bowl, cover and leave to rise for around an hour and a half or until the dough has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
When the dough is ready, cut it into two equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a round and place onto a baking tray.
Cover, and leave to rise again for around 30 minutes or until the loaves have risen by half.
When the loaves have risen, dust the tops with flour and cut a cross shape into each one with a sharp knife.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.