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Saffron fruit loaf

Makes 1 loaf

A bit of a hybrid loaf: part cake, part bread. No matter, either way it’s delicious for breakfast or teatime. It keeps fairly well, which is a blessing as we reckon it is even better a day after being made, toasted and slathered with butter and jam.

20 saffron threads

300 ml (10 1/2  fl oz) hot milk

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong (bread)

flour

1 teaspoon salt

150 g (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter,

diced, plus extra to grease

50 g (1 1/2 oz) soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons dried active yeast

(7.5 g / 1/2 oz sachet)

60 g (2 1/2 oz) currants

40 g (1 1/2 oz) mixed dried fruit or

mixed citrus peel

1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose)

flour, for dusting

1 egg, lightly beaten

Stir the saffron strands into the hot milk and leave to infuse for 1–2 hours.

 

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips to form fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar evenly then make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.

 

Reheat the milk to blood temperature (there’s no need to strain out the saffron threads as they look so pretty). Combine a few tablespoons of the milk with the yeast and mix to a slurry. Stir in the remaining warm milk and then tip all the liquid into the dry ingredients. Use your hands to work the mixture into a dough, then transfer to the bowl of a stand-mixer.

 

Knead with the dough hook on a slow–medium speed for 10 minutes, or until the gluten has developed and the dough is smooth and satiny.

 

Toss the dried fruit with the extra flour, which helps to prevent it sinking to the bottom of the loaf during baking. Add the fruit to the dough in two stages, kneading well after each addition.

 

Grease a 20 cm x 10 cm (8 in x 4 in) loaf tin with butter. Transfer the dough to the prepared tin and cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a draught-free spot for 1–1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Don’t be tempted to speed up the proving time by sticking it on top of a radiator.

 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

 

Once the dough has risen, brush with beaten egg and use a sharp knife to slash the surface, if you wish. Bake for 50–60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. The base of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Allow the cake to rest for an hour before slicing and serving with butter or clotted cream and home-made jam.