A slice of spiced, fruity bread lays on your plate. It's spread thickly with salted butter and served with a wedge of a special British cheese. "Wow--that's good!" you say as you enjoy your first slice of Lincolnshire plum bread.
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What is Lincolnshire plum bread?
British plum bread is a sweet yeast loaf flavored with spices and speckled with dried fruit. It's usually cut in thick slices and served at teatime with butter and Lincolnshire Poacher cheese. More luxurious versions are often served at Christmas.
The History Behind It
The exact origins of this recipe are disputed. We do know that it's been around at least since 1901, and used to be a snack for working men. Oddly enough, it originally didn't contain any dried plums. Long ago, however, "plum" was the name for a mix of any dried fruit. Traditionally, it would have been made with lard instead of butter, but I decided to use both fats to provide a mix of good texture and flavor.
Can I freeze plum bread?
Yes, you absolutely can! Pre-slice it for ease, seal inside of a zip-top freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature, in the microwave, or in the toaster.
How to Make
Measure out the ingredients.
Mix together the dried fruit and Earl Grey tea and set aside to soak.
Stir the milk, butter, and lard over medium heat until warm and melted.
Slowly add the hot milk to two beaten eggs, then whisk in the sugar, salt, spices, and yeast.
Gradually add the flour to the wet ingredients, then knead for 3-5 minutes in a stand mixer.
Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
Knead the fruit into the dough until it's evenly distributed.
Roll the dough up into a tight log and place in a buttered loaf pan. Let it rise until almost doubled in size.
Bake at 375 F for about 40 minutes, until it is well browned and has an internal temperature of at least 190 F. Let cool before serving.
- Make sure to use fresh spices. Old or stale ones won't have the same flavor or aroma.
- Let the dough prove in a warm place to speed up the rise. Place the dough inside of a cold oven and put a metal pan of boiling water on the shelf under the dough. The steam will keep the oven warm, which will encourage the yeast to work.
- Drain any excess liquid from the soaked fruit before adding it to the dough.
- Add more flour when you knead in the fruit. The extra moisture from the fruit will make the dough quite sticky.
- Let the bread cool completely before slicing. Fresh loaves are full of steam, and need time for the inside to finish cooking and cooling.
Other Teatime Breads
- St. Lucia Buns
- Cornish Saffron Buns
- Pulla (Finnish cardamom bread)
- Swedish Cardamom Buns
- Vánočka (Czech Christmas bread)
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Lincolnshire plum bread is an authentic British yeast bread that’s a wonderful dessert for afternoon tea or Christmas. Each slice is jeweled with dried fruit and flavored with hints of cinnamon and allspice. Spread on some butter and enjoy this bread with a cup of tea!
- ½ cup pitted prunes, finely chopped (80g)
- rounded ½ cup currants (80g)
- ½ cup golden raisins (80g)
- ½ cup raisins (80g)
- ⅔ cup brewed Earl Grey tea (150 ml)
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk (200 ml)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (55g)
- 3 ½ tablespoons lard (55g)
- 2 large eggs
- 3 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed (45g)
- 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 ¼ teaspoons fast-action yeast (14g)
- 3 ¾ cups bread flour (450g)
Soaking the Dried Fruit (5 minutes)
- Finely chop the prunes, then pour all the dried fruit and brewed Earl Grey tea into a medium-sized bowl. Mix until the fruit is coated in tea, then cover and set aside to soak while you make the bread dough. Stir it occasionally.
Making the Bread Dough (35 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Stir together the milk, butter, and lard in a small saucepan over medium heat until the fats are fully melted. Pour the mixture into a small jug with a spout.
- Crack the two eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer, then mix them with a whisk. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking the whole time.
- Stir the salt, sugar, and spices into the mixture until well blended, then whisk in the yeast.
- Put the bowl in the mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add the flour until a smooth, somewhat sticky dough forms. You may not need all the flour, or you could need a little extra, depending upon the brand of flour you're using.
- Switch the attachment to a dough hook and knead for 3-5 minutes on medium-low speed. Check to see if the dough is kneaded enough by using the windowpane test. Break off a lump of dough and stretch it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand to create a windowpane. If the dough is translucent in places without breaking, it has been kneaded enough. If not, knead for a minute longer and check again.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to prove in a warm place until at least doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
Shaping the Loaf (15 minutes + 45 minutes proving)
- Butter the base and sides of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the gas pockets.
- Stir the soaked dried fruit and drain off any excess liquid, then flatten the dough and dump the fruit on top. Fold the dough over the fruit and begin to knead, mixing the fruit into the dough until evenly distributed. If some of the fruit falls out, just put it back in. You will need to add extra flour during this part, as the moist fruit will make the dough very sticky.
- Pat the dough into a 9-inch wide rectangle. Roll it up tightly from one of the short ends and place in the prepared loaf pan.
- Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and set aside to prove at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Baking the Plum Bread (40 minutes + cooling)
- Bake the loaf at 375 F for 40-50 minutes. Cover the top with aluminum foil if it's getting too dark. It is done when it has a rich, dark crust and an internal temperature of 190 F.
- Allow it to cool completely before slicing so it can finish cooking inside. Serve in thick slices with butter and Lincolnshire Poacher cheese.
- Use fresh spices. Stale spices from five years ago won't taste as good.
- Is the dough rising slowly? Speed it up by putting it in a cold oven and placing a pan of boiling water on the shelf beneath.
- Drain the fruit before adding it to the dough.
- You'll need to add extra flour when kneading in the fruit, as it will provide extra moisture.
- Cool completely before slicing and serving to allow it to finish cooking in the middle.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: plum recipes, lincolnshire recipes traditional