For the white bread
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast (or 2 tsp Quick dried yeast)
Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp soft butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
For the flavourings
Mix the flour, yeast and salt and 1½ tsp of the caster sugar in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand warm (cool rather than hot) water, with a round-bladed knife. Then mix in enough of the remaining water and a bit more if needed, to gather up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins until it feels smooth and elastic, only adding the minimum of extra flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in size and feels light and springy. Timing will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to knock out any large air bubbles, so too much handling now will lose the dough’s lightness. Shape into a ball, then cover and leave for 10 mins.
Shape by flattening the dough into a rectangle, about 28 x 18cm, scatter on the cranberries, raisins and chopped pecans, then roll up tightly from one of the short ends. Roll into a 52cm-long sausage. Tie into a simple knot and lay on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and leave for 40-45 mins, or until doubled in size.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven 20 mins before ready to bake and heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour about 250ml cold water into the roasting tin (this will hiss and create a burst of steam to give you a crisp crust), then lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake for 20 mins or until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you tap the underneath of the loaf if should be firm and sound hollow.
Finish by making a spiced sugar glaze with the remaining caster sugar, cinnamon and 1 tsp hot water. Brush over bread while it is still warm.