Cardamom and prune bread
- December 2011
- Makes 2 loaves; each cuts into 10-12 slices
- Hands-on 30 minutes, oven 25-30 minutes, plus soaking, resting and proving
“The flavours here are Christmassy, like an English afternoon tea bread or malt loaf, great toasted with butter.” – Richard Bertinet.
- 0.4g (0.1g saturated)
- 14.8g (1.7g sugars)
Per slice (based on 12 per loaf)
- 100g stoned prunes, whole
- 4 tbsp dark rum
- 300g strong wholemeal flour
- 200g strong white flour, plus extra
- to dust
- 15g fresh yeast (from large Sainsbury’s) or 5g dried yeast
- ¼ tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds (from about 10 pods)
- 10g salt
- 350ml water
- Soak the prunes in the rum for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. Sift the flours into a mixing bowl, then rub in the fresh yeast (or mix in the dried yeast with a spoon). Add the remaining ingredients. Stir for 2 minutes until the mix forms a dough.
- Transfer onto a lightly floured work surface. Continue to mix the ingredients by stretching the dough and folding it over onto itself. Keep working it for 8-10 minutes until the dough comes cleanly away from the work surface and isn’t sticky. Add the prunes and soaking juice, then knead until incorporated. Work the dough until everything is distributed, then form into a ball.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and rest for 1 hour in a draught-free place.
- With a scraper or spatula, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and reshape into a ball. Put back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and rest for 45 minutes more.
- Turn out the dough again onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Mould each half into an oval loaf. Place on a lightly floured shallow-edged or upturned baking tray. Flour the top of the loaves, then, with a razor blade or sharp knife, make 8 diagonal cuts (4 on each side, to a depth of 5mm) fanning out from the centre. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 1 hour until the loaves have nearly doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to its highest setting with a baking stone or sheet inside. Open the preheated oven and mist with a water spray. Slide the loaves onto the stone or sheet and quickly close the door. Turn the heat down to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7 and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve in thick slices with cheese, or toasted with butter.
Misting the oven with a water spray gives bread a crisp crust. To test whether the loaves are ready in step 6, tap them on the underside – if they sound hollow they are cooked.
This bread tastes best made on the day, but you could make it the day before – and don’t forget to soak the prunes overnight, if possible.
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