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Rich Fruit Loaf (Irish)

A popular Irish fruit loaf.

ingredients

makes 3 x 450 g (1 lb) loaves
3 1/2 cup (1 lb) 450 g strong plain flour
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1/2 stick (2 oz) 50 g butter
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) 50 g caster sugar (superfine granulated)
2 eggs, size 3, beaten
250 ml (9 fl oz) tepid water
35 g (1 1/4 oz) fresh yeast
1 kg (2 lb) sultanas (golden raisins)
4 oz (100 g) cherries
2 oz (50 g) walnuts
25 g (1 oz) ginger slivers
50 ml (2 fl oz) glycerine
3 x 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins

method

1. Line the bottom of the loaf tin with greaseproof paper and grease well with a little white fat.

2. Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Stir in the sugar and dissolve the yeast in the tepid water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the beaten eggs along with the water And yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for about 15 minutes.

4. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and rest it for about 20 minutes in a warm place.

5. When the dough feels like elastic, it is ready for the next stage.

6. Wash the fruit, dry it well on kitchen paper and then toss in the glycerine. This will help to keep the loaf moist.

7. Scrape the dough, which is sticky in texture, on top of the fruit and mix thoroughly.

8. Cover again and rest for a further 45 minutes in a warm place. The dough should be at a temperature of approximately 27°C (81 F).

9. Push the dough down into the bowl and divide into three pieces. Knead each piece for a few minutes on a lightly-floured work surface, folding the sides and then the ends to the centre, until the dough is smooth.

10. Turn over and drop into the lightly greased tins. Leave in a warm place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the loaf is well risen.

11. Brush lightly with a little beaten egg mixed with some water and a pinch of salt, then bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C (359°F, gas mark 4) until a rich deep-brown colour and firm to the touch, 35-40 minutes

12. When the loaf is cooked it will also have slightly shrunk from the sides of the tin and sound hollow when tapped.

13. Leave to cool before turning out of the tins, then leave to go cold on a wire cooling rack.

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