It has been quite some time since I have participated in the We Knead to Bake Challenge, that is Aparna’s brainchild. I gave the challenge a skip in July and August and I was so excited about last month’s bake, which was a Whole-wheat Yeasted Banana Bread. On a Friday, when HD was lazying, I double checked with him whether we were going out anywhere and since he replied in the negative, I went ahead doing the dough and proofing it. As it was proofing the second time, the kids threw their tantrums and HD had to reverse his decision. I was totally lost – what do I do now? My gas oven does not have a timer that I could leave it in and go, and my microwave convection had not been used for quite some time, so I was not sure whether it was working. As soon as I tried to preheat my MW, it just wouldn’t budge, making my fears complete. I had to push the dough into the fridge and go out with them. Once we were back, I left out the dough overnight to see if there would be some change to it. Alas, the yeast died! 🙁 I still baked it, making it look more like a cake rather than a bread and then I went ahead to convert it into a “bread pudding” for HD’s staff. They loved it, so Alhamdulillah, the “bread” didn’t go waste! 🙂
This month’s bake happens to be another interesting bread called “Barmbrack“. It is an Irish bread, which is mainly prepared for Halloween. The sweetened bread has a texture in between a cake and a bread and is speckled with a lot of dry fruits. You can read more about it here. This bread is also called Bairin Breac, which when translated means “speckled bread”. I loved the way the bread turned out. One of the highlight of this bread is soaking the dry fruits into tea. The bread however does not taste of any tea as such! I loved the intermittent bites of apricot and raisins, though I added more apricot than raisins as per my liking. You can add more dry fruits like sultanas, prunes, etc. to your liking. You don’t need anything to go with on the bread along with a cup of hot tea… Slather some butter on them and they are even better!
Pst pst.. Before I go on to the recipe, can you see that butter there? For the lunch I had on Thursday, I furiously beat the whipped cream for the banoffee pie that it gave up and became butter! 😀 I drained the mixture into a sieve, drank the sweetened buttermilk before I retired late that night, and kept the butter in a box in the fridge. The sweetened butter so beautifully paired with this lovely bread! Another little mention of Lubna, who sent me that little bowl that perfectly matched the plate I used for the shot… 🙂 Off to the recipe…
- ⅛ cup raisins
- ¼ cup dried chopped apricots
- ¾ cup strong, hot black tea
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour + more as required
- 1 tsp instand yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp dry ginger powder
- A pinch salt
- 15 gm butter, softened
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- Milk, as needed
- Soak the dried fruits in the hot tea till it swells up. I soaked up for around three hours.
- Slightly squeeze the fruits off excess liquid and reserve the tea. Set the fruits aside.
- Put the flour, instant yeast, sugar, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk them together till combined.
- Add the beaten egg and butter and rub it in to the dry ingredients.
- Pour the tea into a measuring cup and fill with enough warm milk to make the quantity ½ cup. The mixture must be warm enough to activate the yeast.
- Add the milk tea mixture to the dry ingredients and start to knead till you get a slightly sticky and elastic dough, adding additional flour as necessary. I added almost ½ cup more.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and flatten it out.
- Sprinkle the drained fruit over this and fold it in. Knead again to incorporate the fruit in. The dough may become slightly squishy, so handle it lightly.
- Oil a bowl and transfer the dough into it. Keep it covered and undisturbed for around an hour and a half till the dough is doubled.
- Once the dough has doubled, punch the dough and shape like a loaf.
- Grease a 5 x 8 loaf tin and keep the dough in it for an hour till the dough rises.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake for around 35 to 40 minutes (I baked for 35 minutes) till the top turns golden brown and when tapped, the bread sounds hollow.
- Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning onto a wire rack, to cool completely.
- Slice and serve with butter.