This is a magnificent bread recipe, adapted from the equally magnificent Donna Hay magazine that was out this summer.
It’s fantastic when you need something bready, fast, and it is SO delicious. No yeast or proving is necessary. And come on it’s got nuts and prunes in! Good for you..
I’m not going to pretend some of the ingredients are ‘store cupboard’ but aside from the buttermilk, nothing will go off quickly so if you get them in you’ll have something to rustle up over the Christmas period if you (gasp) run out of food, or even if you need to bring something to someone’s house as a little present.
This loaf, with some nice cheeses and a cheese humidor, would make an excellent gift for a cheese-loving friend. But it’s also good with pate.
125g plain flour (not bread flour)
125g wholemeal plain flour (not bread flour)
1.5 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
half a teaspoon of salt
100g whole blanched almonds (not the end of the world if you have them with their skins on) – you could also, if you wanted to, use other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts.
85g pitted prunes, chopped up
40g maple syrup – this really adds something to it so try not to substitute it for something else
190g buttermilk (you can use kefir if you make it, instead)
65ml of sweet sherry (one of my readers has said she uses very strong Earl Grey tea for this)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease and flour a 2lb loaf tin. (I use this one.) Place the flours, bicarb, salt, almonds* and prunes into a bowl and mix up. Make a well in the middle and add the maple syrup, buttermilk and sherry. You will have a very sticky dough, slop it into the tin, whack it in the oven for about 35-40mins and that’s it. Leave to cool for five mins, turn it out, let it cool and then eat it with joy.
(*The astute amongst you may notice there are nuts on top of my loaf. This is what the original recipe stipulated – that you reserve half the nuts and scatter them atop the dough before it goes into the oven. I’m not sure I would do this again as some of the nuts got a bit too brown, but see how you feel/what sort of effect you want.)