A lovely Italian Christmas citrus infused fruitcake/bread. For this recipe I use 8cmx18cm baking-safe paper bags – or similar sized paper moulds - because the paper is part of the presentation. If you do this, make sure to use paper bags that are intended for baking not the lunch bags you buy at the shop!
1/3 cup (85ml) warm water (45 degrees C)
2 (7g) packets active dry yeast
4 cups (500g) plain flour
1/2 cup (125ml) warm milk
2/3 cup (155g) white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250g unsalted butter
2 cups mixed fruit
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons (40g) butter, melted
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon (20ml) cream
Turn this recipe into a shopping list you can print, email or view on your mobile. It's free! Powered by Whisk.com
To make the yeast sponge, warm a small bowl by rinsing it with hot water. Pour in warm water and sprinkle 1 packet of yeast on it. Let stand until yeast has dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, cover with plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes, or until doubled. Sprinkle remaining yeast over warm milk. Let stand until dissolved. Beat together sugar, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in milk-yeast mixture. Add sponge and stir until well incorporated.
Combine butter and remaining 3 1/2 cups flour until crumbly. Slowly pour in egg mixture and beat on high speed 3 to 4 minutes, until dough is elastic looking and long strands form. Beat in fruit and zests. Turn dough into oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.
Brush the bags inside and out with melted butter. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to deflate. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and drop into prepared bags. Place bags on a baking sheet about 10cm apart and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 2 hours.
Heat oven to 200 degrees C. Cut an X in top of each loaf with oiled scissors. Combine egg yolk with cream. Brush tops of loaves lightly with egg wash.
Place loaves on a baking tray in bottom 1/3 of oven. After 10 minutes, lower heat to 190 degrees C. Bake for 30 more minutes; if tops get too brown, cover with foil. Loaves are done when a wooden skewer inserted into centres comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.