Christmas is now imminent, and this year for the first time I will be spending Christmas day with my boyfriend’s family. They, like many families (including mine in years past!) have croissants for breakfast. Clearly for me this is not an option – although if anyone knows of any good dairy free croissants please do give me a shout! – So I was tasked to think of what I would like to eat for breakfast on Christmas day.
It is safe to say I overthink anything when it comes to Christmas, and I must have gone through every option of breakfast food possible. The key things were it needs to be quick, fuss free and involve little cooking in the morning. After a lot of searching, I remembered Fruit Loaves, something that brings back wonderful childhood memories of breakfasts with my grandparents in Belgium. Their local bakery had the best raisin bread I have ever tasted and kindly my grandparents would always have some in the house for when we visited.
I’ve given the fruit loaf a Christmas-sy twist for the big day by including clementine zest, cinnamon and ginger, ready to be slathered in marmalade. However, if the Christmas flavours are not up your street, or you’re one of those people who thinks Christmas food should be confined to December only, I have made it clear in the recipe below how you can avoid this!
Makes 2 small loaves. Takes 40 minutes, plus 3 hrs 30 minutes for soaking, proving and baking.
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 100g strong wholemeal bread flour (you can use 500g strong white bread flour if you prefer, just reduce the liquid as stated below)
- 10g dried yeast
- 6g salt
- 40g caster sugar
- 40g dairy free butter (I used Pure Sunflower)
- 120ml tepid water
- 140ml milk (reduce this to 130ml if only using white bread flour)
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
- 240g dried raisin/ berry mix
- Juice of 1 orange
- Optional – can be added to turn this into a Christmas Fruit Loaf:
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Large pinch ground ginger
- Zest of 1 clementine
- At least an hour before making the dough pour the juice of 1 orange over the dried fruits and leave to soak. This can be done up to 12 hours before.
- Drain the fruits and discard the left over orange juice. Using some kitchen paper, roughly dry off the fruits.
- In a large bowl add the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and butter – putting the salt and yeast at opposite sides of the bowl. Add the spices and clementine zest if using. Pour in the beaten egg and 3/4s of the liquid, and begin to mix the dough together with your hand in the bowl. Keep adding the remaining liquid until you have a soft sticky dough – it will appear quite wet at this stage.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 – 10 minutes until you have a smooth and stretchy dough.
- Knead the fruit into the dough until evenly distributed. You might need to add a little extra flour to the dough at this point if the dough starts to feel quite wet from the fruit.
- Add 1 tsp of oil to the bowl the dough started in, pop the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Once proved, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock all the air out by punching the dough down.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape into ovals and place on a tray lined with baking paper.
- Leave to prove until doubled in size, about 40 minutes – at the same time, preheat your oven to 220 degrees. You can test the dough is ready by lightly pushing your finger in – the dough should not fully spring back. If it does, leave the dough to prove for another 5 minutes.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds completely hollow when tapped underneath. Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.