100 Great Breads: Bread #19 Grape and Sultana Bread

Right, M.D. is still out of sorts recently so I have picked a bread that I think she will really like. She loves to eat fruit, she has been known to eat whole bowls of grapes under the noses of grownups that were too busy chatting over lunch, and she loves soft, squishy bread – the grape and sultana loaf looks perfect.

At first glance it looks like a normal white loaf with some sugar, and then the fruit is added in the same way as any other flavoured addition to bread (i.e. after the first prove). Hmmm, I wonder if it is just going to taste like white bread with some fruit in it? M.D. will love it, but I am not so sure.

Mixing and Kneading

I am going to edit my usual mantra: White loaf = easy knead . . . but using butter rather than oil makes it harder work. I think I have said before that the fat added to bread adds a slight richness, but is not essential by any means. Its main function is to allow the crumb to become, and remain, very soft – so you can use butter, oil (rapeseed, sunflower, vegetable, olive oil – any without a strong flavour, so I wouldn’t use EV olive oil in a normal loaf), in theory you could use lard I suppose. My personal preference is rapeseed oil because it is flavourless and very cheap – check out a bottle of crisp n’ dry and see what it is made of, 100% rapeseed. But Paul uses butter which doesn’t give the dough the same softness of oil, nor does it make as wet of a dough.

So, a stiffer dough means a more thorough mix is needed. Using your hands to simultaneously mix the ingredients and squash the butter so that it is combined properly – you don’t want lumps of butter in your dough.

Once fully kneaded it is left to prove for an hour. After this the fruit is put on top of the risen dough and, as you knock it back, you incorporate the fruit throughout the bread. This is then shaped into a ball (a ’round’) and flattened slightly, leaving it to rise for another hour.

Oven preheated to 200.

The Bake

It is odd to smell bread and fruit baking without the added aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg that you get in hot cross buns. I found it odd anyway, my wife rather liked it. It baked for 25 mins and came out with a lovely golden crust. I did forget that there was whole fruit in this and tapped the bottom (to see if it sounded hollow), putting my knuckle in some scorchingly hot fruit syrup . . . I won’t lie, that hurt.

Grape and Sultana Bread

Grape and Sultana Bread

The crumb is ludicrously soft, whilst the fruit is still whole and set to explode in the next bite! My wife, mother-in-law and M.D. all love the bread. I am less impressed.

It tastes like white bread . . . with fruit in it. There is no unity between the flavours, it is not a well rounded loaf at all – sorry Paul. But, but, but . . . once toasted this becomes the best recipe so far! It makes for such a brilliant breakfast that it makes this loaf a must try, at least once.

History of Bread

Once baking bread became a profession it became susceptible to sabotage and making bread by untoward means. In the 1600’s a small book was published to teach people how to spot poor quality food, such as meat and cheese. At the end of this book is a small piece of advice for those buying bread:

“Of Bread: If you find little knobs in your Bread, old stale or musty Bread has been mashed among it: If it taste sweet, it is grown Corn: If gritty, it is made of smotty washed Corn. And none of these are very nourishing,& therefore to be eschewed: If Rye be mixed with Wheat, it will be known by the over moistness and any reasonable Pallat may taste it.” Anon, The experienced market man and woman: or Profitable instructions, to all masters and mistrisses of families, servants and others , 1699, p. 15-16

This entry was posted in Bread and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *