This fruit bread is perfect with a cup of tea. Serving with a slice of cheese sounds odd, but it's just how we do it.
225g/8oz prunes, pits removed, roughly chopped
150ml/5fl oz Earl Grey tea
450g/1lb strong plain flour, plus extra for flouring
125ml/4½fl oz milk
6 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
15g/½oz dried yeast
Place the dried fruits into a bowl and pour over the Earl Grey tea. Mix well and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sift the flour into a large bowl. Prepare a large loaf tin by greasing and flouring the bottom and sides.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, melted butter and eggs until well combined.
Add the spices, vanilla extract and salt and whisk again to combine.
Add the dried yeast and whisk again to combine.
Add the sifted flour a little at a time and whisk until all of the flour has been incorporated into the mixture and the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
Strain the soaked dried fruits and discard the tea. Add the soaked fruits to the dough and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic and the fruits are well combined in the mixture.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size (proved).
When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly. Transfer the dough to a large loaf tin and set aside for a further hour to rise.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
When the dough has risen, bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden-brown. Set aside to cool in the tin.
Allow to cool before slicing.
To serve, cut the plum bread into slices and serve with butter and cheese.
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