Ginger and date-studded sweet dough rippled with a signature blend of sweet Asian spices.
Equipment and preparation: you will need a free-standing mixer fixed with a dough hook.
60g/2¼oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
135ml/4½fl oz full-fat milk, preferably organic
60g/2¼oz soft dark brown sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
15g/½oz fast-action dried yeast
450g/1lb strong white flour
For the dates, in a small saucepan bring 150ml/5fl oz of water to the boil. Add the tea and boil for a minute. Strain the tea into a bowl and add the chopped dates. Set aside for ten minutes and then drain the dates using a sieve.
Grease and line a 20cm/8in, round, loose-bottomed spring-form cake tin.
For the dough, melt the butter in a small pan and warm the milk in a separate pan.
In a bowl, combine the warm milk, butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in the yeast until thoroughly mixed. Set aside for five minutes.
Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a free-standing mixer fixed with a dough hook. Add the yeast mixture, drained dates and chopped stem ginger and mix to a soft, smooth and shiny dough.
For the spice blend, while the dough is mixing, crush the green and black cardamom seeds with the black pepper and star anise in a small pestle and mortar. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with the butter, jaggery (or palm sugar), cinnamon, ginger and vanilla paste to make a spreadable spiced butter. Set aside.
When the dough is ready, roll it quite thin and at least 60cm/23½in long. With your fingers or the back of a spoon, spread the spiced butter all over the top of the dough. Roll up, quite tightly, from the long side, like a Swiss roll.
Cut into 3 x 20cm/8in long pieces and arrange them vertically on the counter. Plait the pieces in a simple three-braid plait. Carefully lift the plait and arrange it in a circle around the inside of the prepared cake tin. There may be a little gap in the centre but this will fill in as the bread proves. Cover the top of the tin with cling film and place in a warm place to prove for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan oven 160C/350F/Gas 4.
Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden-brown. While it is still hot, brush the top generously with the ginger syrup. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before sliding a butter knife around the edge of the tin to release it.
Remove the baking paper and leave on a cooling rack until completely cool.
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Paul and Mary share some of their favourite festive recipes in this one-off special.
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