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A wholesome and well-flavoured plaited loaf, packed with apricots and hazelnuts. Delicious when simply buttered, or excellent eaten with cheese.
Mix the flour with the dried yeast (if using), salt, apricots and hazelnuts in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre. If using fresh yeast crumble it into the milk, and stir until smooth. Pour the milk and honey into the well in the flour, then gradually work the flour into the milk to make a soft but not sticky dough. If the dough is dry and difficult to work add a little extra milk. If the dough feels sticky and won’t hold its shape, work in a little more flour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until it feels very elastic (the dough can also be mixed and kneaded in a large food mixer – using the dough hook, and low speed, knead for five minutes only).
Return the dough to the bowl, cover tightly or slip the bowl into a large plastic bag. Leave in a warm spot until doubled
in size – this will take about an hour.
Punch down the dough to deflate then divide into three equal portions. Roll each portion into a sausage shape about 40cm long. Plait the three strands together, tuck the ends under neatly then transfer the plait to a lightly greased baking tray. Slip the tray into a large plastic bag and leave to rise until almost doubled in size for 40 to 60 minutes – do not let the loaf get too big as it will lose definition. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Before putting the loaf in the oven, lightly egg wash. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes, until a good golden brown, and loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a cool bread bin. Best eaten within four days or toasted.
Makes one large loaf
500g Marriage’s Strong Stoneground Wholemeal Flour
15g fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet easyblend dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
100g ready to eat dried apricots, chopped
70g hazelnuts, toasted and halved
350ml milk, lukewarm
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg, beaten for egg wash