Tag Archives: plain flour

Prune and almond loaf

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.)


The beautiful art of getting things wrong. Or, what happens when you use plain flour instead of strong when making bread.

Saturday morning. 6am. I’ve been up for 45 mins because the bird song wakes me up. This is fine. I like the early mornings when everything is new and quiet.

I’m making bread. Later, we will have visitors and will need to feed eight. I’ve made sourdough several hundred times over the last four years. It is only later that I realise that, without the usual distraction of partner and children, my concentration has failed me and I put plain flour into the loaf instead of strong white.

What will happen? No-one seems able to tell me. I ask on Twitter and Facebook. No-one knows. I feel irritated, not because I think this is a mistake of giant proportions, but because my starter won’t be ready to use again for several hours.  I guess that because plain flour – apparently – has less gluten, it will have less of a scaffold for the air bubbles to climb. Ergo the bread will be less raised, less ‘holey’. Worse things happen in Tesco.

I make the bread exactly as I always do, lots of little, light, kneads with increasing rests. I put it in the fridge and the next morning, Sunday, I take it out. Slash it and bake it.

This is what happens when you use plain flour instead of bread flour. Not nothing. Something. You get a beautiful bread that has more holes in it than one of Michael Gove’s speeches, and tastes wonderful.