Spicy Fruit Loaf

9:41 pm on 17 September 2007

This mixture makes two well-flavoured fruit loaves which keep well in the refrigerator or freezer. Slice them with a serrated knife and eat as you would cake, or spread slices thinly with a little cream cheese or butter. For maximum flavour, include some tangy dried fruits.

Ingredients

For 2 loaves, about 425g each:

  • 2 cups water
  • 500 - 550g of a mixture of dried fruits*
  • 50g butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 rounded household tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups wholemeal flour and 1½ tsp bread flour (or 3 cups plain flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Method

Turn the oven on to 170°C with a rack just below the middle. 

Measure the water into a fairly large pot and turn it on to heat, but don't let it boil vigorously before you add the dried fruit, etc.

Add the weighed fruit, cutting large pieces of dried fruit into pea-sized pieces with dampened kitchen scissors. (Use some tangy fruit for best flavour).

Add the butter, cut in several pieces, the sugar, syrup, salt and spices, and stir occasionally while the mixture bubbles gently.

Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, then take the pot off the heat and cool it to room temperature in a sink of cold water. Stir it occasionally.

While the mixture cools, beat the egg with a fork in a cup or small bowl, and measure the flour(s), baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well with a fork or whisk. Find two loaf tins, each of which holds about 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Line each with two strips of baking paper so the sides and bottom are covered.

When the boiled mixture is at room temperature, stir in the beaten egg, then add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, all at once, and fold everything together until it is no longer streaky. DO NOT BEAT OR THE LOAVES WILL BE TOUGH AND HAVE PEAKS IN THE MIDDLE!

Spoon/tip the fairly soft, rough-looking mixture into the tins, levelling the tops.

Bake for 40 - 60 minutes or until the centre springs back when pressed, and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a rack. When cold refrigerate or freeze in airtight plastic bags.

Notes

To make only one loaf, halve the mixture but still use 1 egg.

*For dried fruits, use several of the following for best flavour: sultanas, raisins, currants, cherries, dried apricots, mango strips, peaches, nectarines, dried cranberries, etc. Cut large fruit into pea-sized pieces using wetted kitchen scissors.

(After writing this recipe I read, a few days ago, that dried cranberries, as well as cranberry juice, have very recently been found to inhibit not only urinary tract infections but infections in the mouth and stomach, too.)

The cooking time of this recipe varies with the types and amounts of dried fruits you use, and the amount of liquid they suck up as they boil.  Feel whether the centres of the loaves are firm, and see if a skewer comes out clean, rather than depending on a particular cooking time.

John Hawkesby’s Drink Suggestion

Piping hot cup of Earl Grey or Darjeeling or even English Breakfast Tea

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