In case you were wondering, nope, we are not a religious bunch. Easter merely means chocolate business, sweet bread laced with fruit, chocolate chips and nuts
So yes, I do get a little excited every time Easter comes around. This year, I decided I wasn't going to make hot cross buns. Lachlan's kinder was doing a hot cross bun fundraising drive (and that explained our eating frenzy since last week!) and we bought a couple of dozen Baker's Delight buns. And oh my, can I say they were scrummy yummy. Love the Mocha flavoured buns, soft and full of choc chips.
Braided Fruit Loaf
Adapted from ABC delicious. magazine April 2010 (oh, they haven't stopped coming!)
120g salted butter, plus extra to serve
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
2 2/3 cups (400g) plain flour
1 tbsp (7g) Instant dried yeast
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (125g) raisins
1/2 cup (100g) cranberries*
(*or alternatively, you can use other glace fruits such as chopped dried apricots, cherries or citrus peel)
A handful of flaked almonds
The dough is quite sticky in the earlier stages of kneading, so I use a stand mixer.
Melt butter with milk and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool until lukewarm.
Meanwhile, place flour and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, pulse a few times to combine. Add the beaten eggs, reserving 1 tablespoon to brush, and the milk mixture. Then beat for about 10 minutes until you have a soft, elastic dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly with hands, scattering the dried fruits as you go, folding the sides of dough into the centre and repeat until all the fruits are incorporated and distributed evenly.
Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and covered in a lightly oiled plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for about 1 hour or until dough is doubled in size.
Once that's done, place dough on a floured surface and divide into 3 pieces, rolling each into a fat strand, slightly tapering at the ends. Place the three ends together, tucking them together and under and start plaiting as you would for a little girl's pigtails. (Oh I'm glad I still remembered how that's done, from my dolly years and also from practicing on my cousins!). Tuck the other ends under.
Once again, cover and stand for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Brush the loaf with the reserved egg and top with flaked almonds. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Best served warm or on the day it's made, sliced with a slither of butter.
I made a loaf last weekend for a favourite aunt (we nicknamed A. Zoo), and to say the least she loved it. (She has the tendency to love every single thing we make anyways, even if it's the driest, tasteless piece of stale bread! Heh) I thought the first time round, it was a bit dry and hard, for it's been baked for a little too long and the temperature was too high the sides of the bread was slightly too dark.
The next day, I made another loaf and it made it out of the oven just in time for afternoon tea with my brother, Mark and his family. They devoured it, so I took it as a sign that it was good. So once again, this ABC delicious. recipe has made it to the "to keep and make again" list.
I hope you're enjoying your long weekend, and if you're around the area, please PLEASE feel free to drop by for some chocolate and sweet bread. Happy Easter!