We’ve stirred up the pudding, baked the Christmas cake and made the mince pies but I’m always on the lookout for something a bit different from my collection of old recipe books. At Christmas, there’s such a wealth of traditional baking to draw on. Spice bread and cakes were a popular Christmas custom in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, where they were known as Plum cakes and most likely a forerunner of Christmas cakes.
Yorkshire Christmas spice loaf recipe
I came across this recipe for a scrumptious Yorkshire Christmas Spice Loaf. The original recipe has quantities for a large loaf but I have reduced the amounts and used fast action yeast. I’ve also replaced some of the currants with (dried) cranberries to give it a sophisticated festive touch. This makes enough for two loaf tins.
What you need
1lb 11oz/750g strong plain flour
1 sachet fast action yeast
½ pint/300ml warmed water
4oz/110g demerara sugar
5oz/150g dried cranberries
30z/75g mixed peel
2 tsps mixed spice
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ground nutmeg
How to bake
Rub in the butter into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yeast, sugar and water, mixing until a dough is formed. Knead for around 5 to 10 minutes on an oiled surface until the mixture is soft and smooth or use a dough hook until the dough separates from the mixer bowl. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This can be up to a couple of hours. Meanwhile, oil 2 x 2lbs/1kg loaf tins.
Add the dried fruit and spices to the dough and mix in well. Knead for around 5 minutes and then divide the dough into two. Place the mixture in the 2 tins. Leave to prove for another hour or more in a warm place until the dough has risen again and it springs back if you push it lightly with your finger. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7/425F. Bake the loaves for about 30-35 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out.
Make a glaze by warming 2 tbsps of apricot jam and 2 tbps redcurrant jelly in a pan to brush over the loaves once they came out of the oven. Serve with lashings of butter.
Enjoy a slice or two in the week before Christmas!
A happy and peaceful Christmas to everyone and above all, stay safe!