I have a personal rule regarding food that I make food for the blog, a promise to myself that I will not over-eat. Sounds simple, eh? You might think so, but sometimes I make dishes for the blog at peculiar times of the day or end up with way more food than I need, and I really don’t like wasting food. So, rather than engage in some kind of bacchanalian feast with it all, I try to do the right thing and save it for later, freeze it, or just eat it as my next meal. This is because at 37 years old I weigh nearly 5 stone (30kg) less than I did around my 30th Birthday and there’s no way I’m letting that weight sneak back in without me noticing.
This soupçon of personal restraint provides me with an infallible indicator of a recipe’s success, and that’s if it breaks my rule. And this week, I’ve created two recipes which both broke that rule in style. The sun-dried tomato polenta recipe that precedes this one saw me insatiably consuming more baked polenta than is probably advisable in one day. I was literally having to tear it out of my own hands and wrestle it back to the plate. Then a few days later, when I made the original version of this fruit bread, the same thing happened. I guess it should probably serve 6-8 people or thereabouts, however, half the loaf had mysteriously disappeared by the time I’d finished photographing it.
Contrary to what you might think, I wasn’t suddenly wracked with guilt or remorse, instead I was over the moon that I’d created a recipe with no added sugar that I found so utterly irresistible. It’s dairy free, egg free and spelt flour credentials make it a shining beacon of ‘free from’ virtue and another example of how fruit alone is sweet enough, without the need to augment it with extra refined sugars and syrups. The fact I struggled to keep my hands off the loaf once it was out of the oven is testament to it’s tastiness. It needs nothing more than to be sliced when still warm from the oven or toasted, then topped with your favourite spread or butter and served with a hot mug o’ char.
And anyway, aren’t rules made to be broken?
Lemon & ginger spelt fruit bread
By Gavin Wren
Uses a 1lb loaf tin
1 lemon and ginger tea bag
120g mixed dried fruit (unsweetened), soaked in lemon and ginger tea for 30-60 minutes
150g white spelt flour
100g wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast
Sieve both flours into a mixing bowl, add the salt and cinnamon and mix them all together. Add the strained fruit and stir through.
Warm the remaining tea infusion slightly, to luke warm (a few seconds in the microwave, or briefly in a small pan on the stove) then measure out 125ml of it, keeping the rest. Mix roughly just under half of the 125ml with the yeast in a rammekin, jug or mug and leave for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the yeast has dissolved and the mixture has foamed up.
Add this to the flour mixture, along with the oil and mix with one hand, gradually adding the rest of the reserved 125ml of warmed tea. If the dough is dry, add some more tea from the leftovers (or use warm water), or if the dough is extremely wet, throw in a few pinches of flour and mix until combined. You want to aim for a sticky, fairly wet, loose dough. Knead it a couple of times in the bowl. Drink any leftover tea, it should have a lovely fruity taste.
Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 2 hours – if possible choose a warm position, i.e. on top of the fridge or near any heat sources, and away from the windows. The dough should roughly double in size.
Grease a 1lb (500g) loaf tin. Lightly dust your worktop with flour and gently ease your dough out of the bowl onto the worktop, getting all the bits out that have stuck to the bowl. Knead the dough a few times, literally about 8 ‘kneads’ is all you need. Then make your dough into a shape about the same size as the base of your loaf tin and place it in the bottom of the tin. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour. Again, it should double in size.
Pre heat your oven to gas mark 8, 450ºC, 232ºC, 212ºC fan. Place the tin in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove and cool in the tin, then slice and served with a large coating of your favourite spread across the top, be that butter, olive, coconut etc etc.