Saffron Fruit-and-Nut Bread

Saffron Fruit-and-Nut Bread Recipe

Adapted from recipe by Mark Bittman

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(Important Note:  Because this recipe uses fresh milk and eggs, I do not recommend that you use the delayed start function of your bread maker)

1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries, apricots, or mixture)

1/2 cup brandy or rum or apple juice ( I used Marsala)

1 cup milk

2 large eggs, preferably free-range

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

3-1/2 cups high-grade bread flour

(I used a stoneground, organic white flour)

pinch of saffron threads

1/2 cup almonds or pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons active dried yeast

(if using Surebake, or other yeast with improvers, then use 3-1/2 teaspoons)

Before you begin put the fruit into a small bowl, heat the alcohol or juice, pour it over the fruit and set it aside to soak for about 30 minutes.  Then drain well, reserving the soaked fruit.

Now put the milk, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, flour and saffron into the pan of your bread machine IN THAT ORDER (or whichever order is recommended for your machine).

Then add the previously soaked fruit and the chopped nuts.  Last of all sprinkle the yeast over the top of everything.

Now you could finish this bread completely in the bread maker, in which case choose either the Basic cycle or Sweet cycle and press Start.

Alternatively, you could choose the Dough only cycle.  At the end of the cycle, remove the dough from the machine, form it into a round ball, place it on a lightly floured bench, sprinkle with a little flour, cover with a clean teatowel, and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes.  Butter a shallow baking dish or cake pan that will comfortably hold your loaf of bread, but which the loaf is not yet filling.  Cover with the teatowel again and set aside to rise for at least an hour, until approximately doubled in volume.  Brush the top of the loaf with a little melted butter and bake in an oven preheated to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F) for about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Once removed from the bread maker or oven, turn immediately out onto a wire rack to cool.