I’m not being cute with the title I’ve chosen for December’s bake. Sourdough Loaf Bread with Fruit is not just another name for fruitcake but I suppose you could consider the two cousins. The bread I’m thinking about is more akin to panettone – bread, first and foremost, studded with bits of fruit, in loaf form. Nothing like the dense, sweet, alcohol-infused, candied-fruit and nut-fueled concoction that has become an American pop-cultural gag. Literally and as a gift. No, this is a loaf that anyone who likes bread would appreciate.
Son inspired, Mom approved
A number of years ago, I can’t remember how many, I started sending my mom who is now 86 years old, homemade cookies for Christmas. This began as a reversal of roles in continuation of a tradition we had started together when I was finally able to convince my mom that I needed no gifts from her for Christmas. To understand this request and the love with which I meant it you would first need to understand my wonderful mother. This is a woman who was born poor in the segregated South during the Great Depression. Mom moved north as a teenager to take advantage of opportunities that simply weren’t available to blacks in Georgia at that time. After my dad died when I was four, my mom raised me and my brothers (I am the third of four) as a single mother. She has given me and my brothers everything. More than we can ever hope to repay. The last thing she needs to do, as a senior “on a fixed-income” as she likes to say, is buy her self-sufficient, adult son some holiday gift.
But, my mom enjoys giving gifts for Christmas. And Mom bakes great chocolate-chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies. I suggested, because you don’t tell this self-determined, strong-willed woman anything, cookies as a compromise. From that conversation, I began receiving cookies each December. Well, my brothers found out about this arrangement and as you can imagine before long everyone was receiving cookies for Christmas. Eventually, Mom said to me one year that while she enjoyed the holiday baking the effort was too much anymore. So, I offered to send her cookies instead. Mom liked the idea and with that, I took on the tradition we had created.
As I began baking more, Mom’s tin of cookies became a basket including bread and scones in the gift. She appreciates it all and now wonders why she only gets to sample what I’m baking during Christmas. The breads and scones and such go great with her tea you understand. Mom’s funny. This year, like every year, I wanted to try something different and so…fruited bread. I’m always concerned Mom won’t go for some odd shape – I’ve yet to send her a boule for this very reason – so I’m sticking with a sandwich loaf. She’ll love it.
As usual, I started my search online and in my cookbooks for recipes that seem to capture the sort of bake I’m looking for – a natural or yeast-risen enriched bread, good on flavor, sweetened but not confused with dessert and with a smaller, more consistent hole structure. The three below hit the mark:
- Fruited Sourdough Sandwich Bread from King Arthur Flour – this recipe was the first I found and closest to what I initially had in mind. I’ve since made this recipe a couple of times and like it.
- Panettone – I referenced the recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice but you’ll find numerous versions online. I’m drawn to the drier texture of the bread and use of extracts and alcohol. Apologies for the no link. One of these days I’ll get around to including this book in The Library.
- Fruit Bread from Sistermixin’ – I thought this recipe was a good, creative take on fruit bread with a commitment to health and clean, simple ingredients I appreciate.
And remember during this holiday season, just be yourself. Do you, nobody else. Till then.