I make this at Christmas ready for those late breakfasts and brunches, when all anyone wants is a large coffee and a slice of something special to celebrate the holiday. The very fine, delicate cake-like crumb and texture of this festive Italian yeast bread is the result of several risings, so allow plenty of time. A large food mixer does all the hard work.
Makes 1 medium loaf
- 350g strong white bread flour
- 1 x 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
- 3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
- 2 large free range yolks, at room temperature
- 75g caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
- grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 175g unsalted butter, very soft
- 75g sultanas
- 50g candied peel, very finely chopped
- 1/2 x 100g bar (50g) Divine orange milk chocolate, very finely chopped
- 40g unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
- extra flour for working
You will need
- 15cm round deep cake tin (or coffee tin), greased and lined (base and sides, so paper extends 5cm above the height of the tin)
- Put half of the flour into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the yeast and combine using the dough hook attachment. Beat the 3 whole eggs until just mixed then add to the yeast mixture. On low speed work the ingredients together to make a very thick, smooth batter. Cover the bowl with a lid or cling film and leave in a warm spot until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
- Mix the two egg yolks into the batter then add the rest of the flour, the sugar, salt, plus the orange and lemon zest. Mix the ingredients together on low speed to form a very soft and sticky dough. Cut up the butter into small pieces and gradually work into the dough, still at low speed. Knead the dough in the machine on low speed for 3–4 minutes until it is no longer streaky but looks smooth and silky.
- Cover the bowl as before and leave in a warm but not hot spot until doubled in size – about 2 hours. Flour your knuckles then punch down the dough to deflate it. Cover again and leave to rise as before until doubled in size – about an hour this time. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down.
- Combine the sultanas with the chopped peel and chocolate in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of flour and toss gently – this helps prevent them sticking together in clumps in the dough. Scatter the mixture over the dough and gently knead in with your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and gently drop into the prepared tin. Cut a cross in the top of the dough with the tip of a sharp knife. Cover the top of the tin loosely then leave in a warm spot until doubled in size – about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Brush the top of the loaf with plenty of melted butter then bake in the heated oven for 10 minutes. Brush again with melted butter, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool for 15 minutes (the crust of the loaf will be very fragile) then gently turn out and leave to cool completely before slicing.
- Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days, or toast.