I first made this bread on New Year’s Day 2016, really early! I had come home from celebrating the New Year with old friends (a somewhat laborious journey because of road closures on Sydney Harbour Bridge after our amazing fireworks) and, arriving home at 2.30am, found sleep elusive. So I decided to make bread…
I started this lovely loaf by putting the ingredients together and leaving to prove in the fridge. To bed at 4.00am, up at 10.00am with the dough ready for its next stage. I ended up with a beautiful, festive loaf for breakfast.
The inspiration for the bread was a Nigel Slater recipe for rosemary and honey bread, and the method from James Morton, who really “gets” bread.
250 g strong wholemeal flour
250 g strong white plain flour
1 tsp salt
7 g instant yeast
350 ml warm water
1 tbls honey
75 g sourdough starter (optional)
50 g sour cherries
50 golden raisins
50 g walnuts
Rub the flours together, add the salt and yeast, keeping them separate. Add the warm water, honey and the sourdough starter (if using). Stir in the cherries, raisins and walnuts. Use a dough scraper to combine into a loose dough. You should have a dough that is really quite sticky. Once combined, use the scraper to pull the dough from the edge of the bowl into the middle. You should then work your way around the bowl several times, about 15-20 scrapes.
Cover the dough in the bowl with a plastic bag or a plastic shower cap, which I find ideal. Rest the dough for an hour until risen and spongy or in the fridge overnight for a retarded prove, which is what I did.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Heat a baking tray or slide in the oven.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and then carefully transfer to a proving basket or a floured tea towel inside a bowl. I love my proving baskets and the rustic markings they leave on the bread. Leave to prove for about an hour or until nearly doubled in size again.
This next part you need to do quickly: open the oven door, pull out your baking tray part way and deftly turn out the dough from the proving basket onto the hot baking tray. Score the the top of loaf. Add a shallow pan of water to the bottom of the oven (to create steam for a lovely crust) and close the oven door! All this should take about a minute – you don’t want to lose heat from the oven.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until nice and dark brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
You can eat this fruity bread on its own, with butter, with cheese or with something a little indulgent like lemon curd. This was a great pick-me-up on January 1st!