Braided Fruit Loaf2013-03-15
Bored with chocolate eggs? Deliver this baked treat on Easter morning instead, and you’ll be more popular than you-know-who.
- 120g salted butter, plus extra to serve
- 1/3 cup (80ml) milk
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 2 2/3 cups (400g) plain flour
- 1 tbs (7g) dried instant yeast
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup (125g) chopped glacé apricots (see note) (or other glacé fruits, such as cherries)
- 1/3 cup (55g) candied citrus peel
- 1-2 tbs flaked almonds
Melt butter with milk and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool until lukewarm.
Place flour and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and pulse to combine. Add the beaten egg, reserving 1 tablespoon to brush, and the milk mixture, then beat for 5-10 minutes until you have a soft, elastic dough.
Turn out onto a floured bench and shape into a rough rectangle. Scatter with one quarter each of the glacé fruit and peel, then fold sides of the dough into the centre like a letter. Repeat steps until all the fruit and peel are incorporated. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes to distribute fruit evenly.
Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap, then stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Line a large baking tray with a silicone baking sheet. (If you don’t have one, stack two large baking trays and line the top tray with a double layer of baking paper.)
Place dough on a floured board. Divide into 6 pieces and roll each into a fat strand, about 35cm long and 2.5cm in diameter, slightly tapering the ends.
Lay 3 strands side-by-side on the baking sheet, with a small space between each. Form into a plait, tucking the ends under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover again, and stand for a further 1 hour or until almost doubled. (A fingertip pressed gently into the dough should leave an impression; if the hole fills quickly, it needs more time.)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the loaves with reserved egg and top with flaked almonds. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. (Rotate the tray halfway through cooking time, if needed, to ensure even baking). Cool on a wire rack, then serve with butter, if desired.