AUNT LOUIE’S YULE BREAD
Grandma loves Yule bread for breakfast, toasted or plain and spread with butter, though in its native Yorkshire it is served for afternoon tea. This is another recipe traditionally kneaded by hand as a warm touch helps the yeast rise!
This large loaf serves 8
1½ cups/375 ml water
2/3 cup/90 g raisins
2/3 cup/90 g dried currants
2 teaspoons/10 g dry yeast
4 cups/500 g flour, more if needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup/140 g sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup/110 g butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup/45 g chopped candied orange peel
1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm milk (for glaze)
9x5x4-inch/23x13x10-cm loaf pan
1. To mix the dough: Bring water to a boil, pour half over the raisins and currants and leave to soak. Let the remaining water cool to tepid. Crumble or sprinkle the yeast over the tepid water and leave 5 minutes or until dissolved; stir with a teaspoon until smooth. Sift the flour into a bowl with salt, cinnamon and cloves and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the dissolved yeast, plus the water drained from the fruits. Add the eggs and mix with your hand to gradually draw in the flour to form a dough (the warmth of your hand helps the yeast to rise). If needed, add more flour to form a smooth dough that is soft but not sticky.
2. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it, turning and pushing away with your fist, until it is smooth and elastic, 3-5 minutes. Alternatively use an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook to mix and knead the dough. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, flipping it so the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, 1½-2 hours.
3. To finish and shape the loaf: Flatten the dough on a floured work surface, spread it with the creamed butter and knead again with your hand until the butter is incorporated, 3-5 minutes. Flatten the dough again, sprinkle it with the soaked fruit and candied peel and knead just until the fruit is evenly distributed, 2-3 minutes. The mixing of the butter and fruits can also be done in an electric mixer.
4. To shape the loaf: Butter the loaf pan. Using your fist, pat the dough on a floured work surface to a 9-inch/23-cm square. Roll the dough into a cylinder, pinch the edge to seal and then drop it carefully into the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover loosely and leave the dough to rise in a warm place until the pan is full, 1½-2 hours.
5. Heat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F. Brush the loaf with glaze and bake for 20 minutes. Brush again, lower the heat to 350˚F/180˚C and continue baking until the loaf sounds hollow when unmoulded and tapped on the bottom, 30-40 minutes longer. Transfer it to a rack to cool. Yule Bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 month so the flavour matures. It can also be frozen.