Spiced Fruit Bread – Gluten-Free

This is the GF version of my Greek Easter bread recipe. After a bit of practice, I realised that extra-fine sponge flour is almost exactly the same in texture/weight as shop-bought GF flour (which is usually rice flour with potato & tapioca starch).

It works best with self-raising GF flour. Pictured results used mixed dried fruit with citrus peel – it tastes just like hot cross buns.

Makes: One loaf

Ingredients

  • 500g self-raising gluten-free flour, plus extra for kneading & shaping
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 large pinches of salt
  • 75g sugar (golden caster tastes great, but regular white caster is fine)
  • 1 orange, finely grated zest only
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (4-5 green cardamom pods, seeds removed & heartily crushed)
  • 60g cold butter, plus additional to grease tin
  • 150ml just-boiled water (150g if weighing)
  • 150ml tepid tap water (150g if weighing)
  • 150g full-fat cream cheese, cold from the fridge
  • 75g dried fruit (raisins are fine, but mixed dried fruit with citrus peel is perfect)
  • Vegetable oil, for the clingfilm
  • 1 medium egg (40-50g weighed in its shell), whisked, for glazing

Kit

  • A 2lb loaf tin
  • Baking/parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom of the tin with an overhang on each end
  • 2 mixing bowls: 1 large and 1 medium
  • Mortar and pestle (if you don’t have ground cardamom)
  • Fine citrus grater
  • Clingfilm
  • Pastry brush
  • Cooling rack

Steps

  1. Put the flour, baking powder, yeast, gum, salt, sugar, zest, and spices into a medium bowl, keeping the yeast+gum on a separate side of the bowl from the salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips.
  2. Put the hot and tepid waters in a large bowl with the cold cream cheese, and stir vigourously until well mixed and frothy. Tip the dry ingredients in and combine with a fork until you can create a ball of dough.
  3. Leave the dough in the bowl, covered with clingfilm, in a warm and draught-free place for 1 hour or so, to double in size (see Rising footnote).
  4. Heavily flour a work surface and your hands, and lightly knead the dough with the dried fruit for 3 minutes until the fruit is evenly distributed. Add more flour as necessary until the dough is less sticky and makes a smooth ball.
  5. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover again with the clingfilm, and leave for another hour in the same warm and draught-free place to double in size again.
  6. Butter your tin and line the bottom with paper, leaving ‘handles’ at the ends. Tip out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and massage it together into a rectangle the size of your tin, and place in the tin.

    Rub a touch of oil on the underside of your clingfilm and cover the tin loosely. Leave to rise a 3rd time (see Rising footnote) up to 90 minutes, until it’s reached the sides of the tin (or above).
  7. Preheat your oven to 210 C (190 C fan-assisted). Remove the clingfilm, and brush the top of the loaf with the whisked egg. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking. Turn the oven down to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted) and bake for 10-15 more minutes. Once done (tip it out from the tin enough to rap your knuckles on the bottom and hear a ‘hollow’ sound), remove from the oven and leave the tin on a cooling rack.
  8. After 15 minutes, remove the loaf from the tin with the paper handles. Wait at least 15 more minutes before slicing.
  9. As with most breads, this freezes well – slice the cooled loaf, place the slices into sealed plastic bags/containers, and put into the freezer; pop a frozen slice straight into the toaster.

Notes on Rising
On a warm day, leaving the dough to rise is a doddle. On colder days, it can either take simply ages, or not want to rise at all. On a really cold day when the heating’s on, I’ll put it on a radiator, on top of two cork mats so the heat doesn’t directly touch the bottom of the bowl/tin. Or, you can turn your oven on to the absolute lowest setting until it heats, turn it off, and leave the bowl/tin in with the door slightly ajar.

Some bakers advocate turning on your oven, opening the door, and leaving the tin on a chair next to the oven. However, this means having the oven on for a few hours prior to baking, which uses up extra power if you’ve already got the heating on, anyway. (It’s also not very practical with dogs in the house, nor with a wall oven.)

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