Fruited Spelt Loaf:
I’ve been sent a lovely Mermaid loaf tin to test. It’s designed for a half kilo loaf of bread, with that wonderful non-stick finish that all Mermaid bakeware has. Now, as a confirmed non-baker, I was wondering what to try to make. Normal bread is generally quite ‘non-stick’ so it wouldn’t really test the pan. And in any case, I had eggs, nuts, an assortment of dried fruit and spelt flour that needed using up. I buy dried fruit before Christmas, in an effort to bake, make mince pies and do all those other good homely type things that I read about in magazines. And mostly it just sits in the cupboard. So, I wanted a sweetened bread of some sort.
I became a woman on a mission. I wanted a recipe that would use up things. And, by googling my cornucopia of a store cupboard ingredient list I came across Vaisiu Pyragas – Lithuanian Fruit Bread. It really did a remarkable job of using up the things I already had, even down to the small amount of butter left in the fridge! I did use spelt flour, where the original recipe asked for normal white flour. And although I was working to roughly half the original recipe quantities, I used two whole eggs and rather a lot of rum. Which might explain why my finished dough was a little ‘wet’.
The recipe essentially involves making a sweetened plain dough and allows it to rise once, before enriching it with eggs, more sugar, a lot of dried fruit and nuts, butter, and in my case a liberal dose of rum. The result is a wonderfully scented dough that is promising even before you baste it with sugary cinnamon butter and roll it up.
- 1 packet Fast Acting Yeast
- 100 g Sugar
- 180 ml Warm Milk
- 500 g Spelt Flour
- pinch Salt
- 75 g Butter
- 125 g Mixed Dried Fruit chopped
- 125 g Raisins chopped
- 100 g Walnuts chopped
- 20 ml Dark Rum
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 25 g Melted Butter
- 50 g Caster Sugar
- 2 Medium Eggs
Mix together the yeast, salt, 400g of the flour, half the sugar and the warm milk into a soft dough.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour
Now, put the mixture into your bread mixer and add all the remaining ingredients including the remaining flour and sugar (other than the filling). Use the dough setting to mix and leaven the dough. If you don't have a bread mixer, then mix the dough by hand or using the dough hook on a stand mixture, kneading till everything is well combined. Then leave to rise for a further hour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Mine was quite 'wet' at this stage, so I simply divided it into two portions and pressed out each one into a rectangle. The rectangle should have a short side the same length as your bread tins and a long side about half as long again.
Mix together all the filling ingredients. Brush the dough rectangles with the filling and then roll up along the short side so that there's a fat dough sausage which fits your bread tins Fold up the ends.
Prepare your bread tins by greasing well, or lining.
Put the dough sausages in tins and cover. Leave to rise till they have doubled in size (about an hour), meanwhile pre-heating your oven to 200c
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200c for the first 10 minutes and then 180c for the remaining time. Test to check when the bread is done by tapping the bottom of the tin, which will have a hollow sound once fully cooked
Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool. If you like, drench with icing sugar, or glaze the top of the loaves with an apricot glaze.
The quantity in my recipe fills two half kilo loaf tins. And, the end result is a cross between a fruited spiced brioche and a buttery tea-bread. It’s rich without being sickly and very moreish. I actually ate 4 slices last night before I decided to freeze the remainder for the sake of my diet! I suspect the spelt flour is uniquely suited to the ingredients because it has a tendency to be dry. But the mixture of dried fruit, butter, milk, nuts and eggs means that just isn’t likely.
Will I be making it again? Definitely. I’ll probably try using a little more cinnamon butter in the filling and I’ll avoid chopping the walnuts up quite so finely. I’ve still got about the same amount again of dried fruit to use up, so it will still be a very economical cake.
Disclaimer: I was sent a free sample of spelt flour and the Mermaid loaf tin to review.