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.
Lincolnshire plum bread takes a lot of basic ingredients that you'll already have in your pantry. The only one you may not be able to find easily at your local grocery store is the dried currants, but many specialty stories carry them, and they are available for purchase online.
- Flour: It's best to use bread flour for every yeast bread recipe, as its higher protein content creates more gluten, giving it a higher rise and better texture. My favorite brand is King Arthur.
- Yeast: I prefer to use fast-action yeast, as it doesn't require blooming like active dry does. If you do want to use active dry, stop at step #3 in the recipe card and allow the mixture to sit until it gets foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Liquid: The only liquid actually added to the dough is warm whole milk. The dried fruit is soaked in freshly brewed Earl Grey tea, but that is drained off before the fruit is added to the dough.
- Dried Fruit: A mixture of raisins, golden raisins (sultanas), currants, and diced prunes provide flavor and moisture to this bread. Soaking the fruit in Earl Grey tea softens it and adds additional flavor.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
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. You will have to add more flour, as the liquid from the dried fruit will make the dough very sticky.
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.
Enjoy this delicious homemade bread thickly sliced and spread with butter. Have a cup of tea and relax with this lovely treat!
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.
- Make sure to use fresh spices. Old 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 Treats
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Lincolnshire Plum Bread
- rounded ½ cup currants
- ½ cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup raisins
- ⅔ cup brewed Earl Grey tea
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ½ tablespoons lard
- 2 large eggs
- 3 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 ¼ teaspoons fast-action yeast
- 3 ¾ cups bread flour
- 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.
- Stir together the milk, butter, and lard in a small saucepan over medium heat until the fats are fully melted. Make sure it doesn't get hotter than 115 F, or it may kill the yeast.
- 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 2 hours.
- Butter the base and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- Punch down the proved dough all over to knock out the gas pockets.
- Stir the soaked dried fruit and drain off any excess liquid. Use the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer to incorporate the fruit into the dough on low speed. You'll need to add more flour, as the moisture form the fruit will make the dough very sticky. (You can also do this by hand on a floured work surface.)
- 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.
- Bake the loaf at 375 F for about 45 minutes. Cover the top with aluminum foil if it's getting too dark. The bread is done when it has an internal temperature of 190 F.
- Allow the loaf to cool completely in the tin before slicing so it can finish cooking inside. Serve in thick slices with butter and Lincolnshire poacher cheese.
- Use fresh spices, as stale ones 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 well 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.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.