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Honey Fruit Bread, a yeast bread for the holidays - catlinye_maker [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Honey Fruit Bread, a yeast bread for the holidays [Jan. 7th, 2009|12:51 pm]
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My grandmother was a wonderful baker. She made fruitcake by the hundred-weight for Christmas, cookies by the thousands, tiny yummy cakes with butter icing, but the holiday recipe I liked best was honey fruit bread, toasted with butter, if you please.

When I first tried to make this bread myself, after she had passed away, all I had was a list of ingredients. Knowing little about baking at the time, I turned to usenet for help. (Remember usenet? Yeah, it was a while back.) The usenet baking group was able to come up with a set of instructions based on generic bread baking, which I’ve used ever since (with some refinements as my experience grew.)

A couple of years ago, my hard drive crashed and took with it all the recipes I’d saved, including the honey fruit bread. I really missed it this year (last year was far too rushed for holiday baking) so I asked my extended family if any of them had the recipe. Thankfully my uncle was able to send me a copy. Interestingly this one had the original instructions, and it’s very different from what I remembered doing (I remembered the method fine, it was the amounts I was stumped on.)

Some of the changes are stylistic. I use golden raisins rather than dark because they are so pretty in the finished loaf. I substitute pecans for walnuts because my mother in law is allergic to walnuts (and actually I think they’re a little better in the bread.) This bread is also great with mixed dried fruit instead of candied fruit if you’re making it out of season. The candied fruit gives it that particular taste that just says Christmas to me, and takes me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen, and my grandfather buttering the toast.

Original Recipe:

Honey Fruit Bread

2 cups scalded milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

1 yeast cake (package)

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup honey

2 eggs beaten

7½ - 8 cups flour

1 cup candied fruit

1 cup raisins

½ cup chopped walnuts

Stir yeast into warm water in large bowl. Heat milk, shortening, sugar, and salt together to about 110 deg F, add to yeast. Beat in about 2 cups flour and add eggs, candied fruits and walnuts (room temperature).

Beat in as much remaining flour as possible and then continue to add reminder gradually, kneading 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in large greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place (85 deg F) until doubled (about 1 - ½ hrs) . Punch down and turn out on a lightly flowered surface.

Divide dough into desired number of pieces , cover with towel and let “rest” for 10 minutes before forming. Let it rise until doubled (30 - 45minutes). Bake at 375 deg F. It will take 40 – 45 minutes; this will make 3 -4 loaves.

How I do it:

Honey Fruit Bread

2 cups milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

2 ½ tsp dry yeast (or one packet)

¼ cup butter

¼ cup honey

2 eggs, beaten

7½ - 8 cups flour

1 cup candied fruit

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup chopped pecans

Measure 7 cups of flour into a large bowl. Make a well in center of flour.

Measure sugar, salt, butter and honey into microwaveable bowl. Measure out milk; add about 1 ¾ cups to bowl. Set aside about ¼ cup and heat to lukewarm (105-115 degrees F) with the remnants of the honey. Add yeast to warm milk and honey mixture and stir to proof.

Heat the bowl of milk and other ingredients in the microwave just until the butter melts. Stir to blend. Make sure it is not too hot, then add the eggs and yeast mixture. Pour the resulting liquid into the flour well. Stir the liquid gently with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the flour until the mixture is too stiff to stir easily. Use your hands to mix the remaining flour into the soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, and knead until smooth, adding flour as needed (usually a half cup or a little more.) Once the dough is smooth and elastic, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Pat it out into a large rectangle on the floured board. Sprinkle the candied fruit, raisins, and nuts over the dough and roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Knead the dough to distribute the fruit evenly, replacing any pieces that fall out. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl; lightly oil the surface of the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel. Set it aside in a warm place to rise until double in volume (a bowl with measuring marks makes this much easier!)

Deflate the dough, then divide it into two equal parts. Shape into loaves and place in greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pans. The dough should fill the pans roughly halfway. Cover the pans with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and set in a warm place to rise until double (slightly above the rims of the pans.) Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom (Using an oven mitt or potholders, gently turn the loaf upside down onto the mitt. Remove the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles. If it doesn’t sound hollow, replace the loaf in the pan and return it to the oven.)

Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool in the pan for ten minutes, then turn them out onto racks to cool completely. Cover them with a dry dish towel and lay them on their sides for cooling. Try to keep your family from cutting into a loaf immediately (the crumb is more even if you let the loaves cool before cutting.) Resign yourself to hot bread and butter.