Plaited Prune Bread
This plaited, attractive loaf that is enriched with butter and egg is not as complicated as it looks. It has a sweet filling and a glossy dark- brown crust. I wanted to try this stunning bread the minute I saw it in my baking book but somehow it didn’t happen until yesterday. You can choose any filling you like and try this to impress the crowd, be it kids, friends or family! I am sure everyone of them will enjoy this bread as much as me and my hubby did. Enjoy and have fun baking.
Ingredients( Makes 1 loaf)
- Plain flour / maida – Around 2.5 – 3 cups
- Active dry yeast – 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet
- Lukewarm water – Around1/4 cup
- Lukewarm milk – Around 1/4 cup
- Caster sugar – 1/4 cup
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Egg – 1
- Butter – 1/4 cup, at room temperature
- Egg – 1 beaten with 2 tsp water, for glazing
For the filling
- Cooked prunes* – Around 1 cup
- Lemon or orange rind – 2 tsp, grated
- Freshly grated nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
- Butter – 1 1/2 oz (45 g), at room temperature
- Finely chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup
- Caster sugar – 2 tbsp
*I did not have prunes, orange, lemon rind etc. I used 1/2 cup roughly chopped dates, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup raisins and 2 tbsp sugar (crushed all of them in a mixie) and combined the crushed mixture with 3 tbsp softened butter.
1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and water, stir and leave for 15 mts to dissolve.
2. Add in the milk, sugar, salt, egg and butter. Gradually stir in the flour to obtain a soft dough. (I transferred all these ingredients to the food processor bowl and made the dough. Then I transferred the dough to a floured surface and kneaded the dough for a few minutes).
3. Transfer to a floured surface and knead in just enough flour to obtain a dough that is smooth and elastic. Put into a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hrs.
4. Meanwhile, for the filling, in a bowl combine the prunes, lemon and orange rinds, nutmeg, butter, walnuts and sugar and stir together to blend. Set aside. I did not have prunes with me so I just crushed 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup dates and 2 tbsp sugar in the mixer, combined it with the softened butter and used it as the filling).
5. Grease a large baking sheet. Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly, then roll out into a 15 x 10 inch (38 x 25 cm) rectangle. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet.
6. Spread the filling in the center of the rolled dough.
7. With a sharp knife, cut around 8 – 10 strips at an angle on either side of the filling, cutting just to the filling. You will need equal count of strips on both sides.
8. For a plaited pattern, fold up one end neatly, then fold over the strip from the alternating side, repeat until all the strips are folded over. Tuck excess dough underneath at the ends.
9. Cover it loosely with a towel and leave to rise in a warm place until almost doubled in volume. I kept it for around 15 – 20 mts since my bread had already begun to rise while I plaited it.
10. Preheat a 375 F/ 190 C / Gas 5 oven. Brush with the egg glaze. Bake until browned, about 30 minutes. (You can cover it loosely with an aluminum foil after 15 – 20 mts otherwise the crust will turn deep brown). Transfer to a rack to cool. Slice and enjoy!!
Recipe Courtesy – Adapted from Baking by Martha Day