This traditional Christmas, marzipan-filled fruit loaf can be made ahead or even frozen, making it perfect for getting ahead.
- Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus proving
- Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
- Total time: 60 minutes, plus 1 1/2 hours proving
Makes: 12 thick slices
25g mixed peel
50g glacé cherries, chopped
50g blanched almonds, chopped
Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
10 cardamom pods, crushed and shells removed
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
375g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g sachet dried yeast
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
65g unsalted butter, melted
150ml warm milk, plus 1-2 tbsp, if needed
oil, for greasing
Icing sugar, for dusting
- In a bowl, mix together the raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, cherries, almonds, lemon zest, cardamom seeds, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Cover and leave to stand while making the dough.
- Put the flour, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, 50g of the melted butter and 150ml milk. Using a round-bladed knife, mix the ingredients to form a dough. If the dough feels dry and crumbly, add a further 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
- Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough using a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook for 5 minutes.) Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1¼ hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Gradually knead in the fruit mixture until it is evenly distributed through the dough. (Don’t worry if the dough becomes soft, sticky and slightly messy to handle at this stage.) Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Grease a large baking sheet. Shape the marzipan into a log, 30cm long, and set aside.
- Roll out the dough to a 30 x 16cm rectangle. Place the marzipan log on top of the dough, slightly to one side of the centre. Dampen the wider side of the dough with water, then fold it over the marzipan, pressing it down gently on the other side, to secure. Transfer to the baking sheet. Cover with lightly greased clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and pale golden. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining melted butter. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Once cool, dust generously with icing sugar and serve i thick slices.