Chocolate barmbrack bread
Barmbrack is a tea loaf similar to the Welsh bara brith. Here the same flavours have been used in this sweet bread laced with delicious dried fruit and chocolate.
For the bread
- 300g/10½oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2½ tbsp ground mixed spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 8g fast-action yeast
- 33g/1¼oz unsalted butter, softened
- 66g/2½oz golden caster sugar
- 200ml/7fl oz semi-skimmed milk
- 1 large free-range egg
- 100g/3½oz mixed dried fruit
- 30g/1oz mixed candied peel
- 100g/3½oz Belgian milk chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil, for greasing
For the glaze and decoration
For the bread, line a baking tray with baking paper and dust generously with flour.
Sift the flour, mixed spice and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast on the opposite side to the salt. Add the butter and sugar. Mix using your hand in a claw position until well combined.
Gently warm the milk until it is warm to touch, then whisk in the egg.
Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and pour the milk mixture into it. Dust your hands with flour and mix using your hand as before, until the dough comes together. It will form a very wet dough. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes in the bowl (use a dough scraper if you have one), or until the dough starts to tighten (though it will still be sticky). Regularly scrape off any dough stuck to your hands.
Flour the work surface and your hands. Spread the dough out in a rough rectangle and add the dried fruit, candied peel and chocolate into the middle of the dough. Knead for a further 2 minutes to incorporate.
Place the dough on the prepared tray and shape into an oval. Lightly dust with flour and cover with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove for an hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 195C/175C Fan/Gas 5.
Once the dough is proved, remove the cling film and slash once lengthways across the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 40 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, rotating the tray midway through cooking to ensure you get an even crust (the loaf should be a dark-brown colour). If the bottom edges brown too early, wrap a strip of aluminium foil around the loaf.
Just before the loaf is cooked, make the glaze. Mix the sugar with the boiling water in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
Place the loaf on a wire rack and, while it is is still hot, liberally brush the glaze all over the crust.
To decorate, gently melt the dark chocolate in a microwave or bain-marie. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then drizzle liberally over the loaf. Repeat with the white chocolate.
Wet doughs, like in this recipe, are easier to knead using a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook, though it will not take as long.
When kneading by hand, it’s usually easier to use the stretch and fold method.