Orange-Spiced Fruit Bread
Mix dough: Soak raisins, cranberries and figs in hot water for 10 minutes; drain well and let cool to barely warm. Thoroughly stir 2 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour, whole-wheat flour, aniseed, allspice, yeast and salt in a 4-quart (or larger) bowl. Thoroughly whisk 1 1/4 cups ice water, honey, molasses, oil and orange zest in a medium bowl. Vigorously stir the honey mixture and drained fruit into the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the dough is thoroughly blended. The dough should be moist and somewhat sticky, but fairly stiff. If the mixture is too dry, stir in just enough additional ice water to facilitate mixing, but don't overmoisten. If the dough is too wet, stir in just enough flour to stiffen slightly. Lightly coat the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.Advertisement
First rise: Let the dough rise at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, stir once partway through the rise. For convenience (and improved flavor), you may refrigerate the dough for 3 to 12 hours before starting the first rise.
Second rise: Coat a 10-cup Bundt pan (or similar pan with a center tube) with oil. Vigorously stir the dough to deflate it. If it is soft, stir in just enough bread (or all-purpose) flour to yield a firm but moist dough (it should be fairly hard to stir). Transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly coat the top with oil. Smooth out and press the dough evenly into the pan with oiled fingertips or a rubber spatula; if the dough springs back and is resistant, let it rest for 10 minutes, then proceed. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise at warm room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch below the pan rim (of a 10-cup pan) or until an indentation stays when pressed into the dough (if a larger pan is used), 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours. (For an accelerated rise, see Tip.)
15 minutes before baking: Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F.
Bake, cool: Bake the loaf on the lower rack until lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until an instant-read thermometer registers 204-206 degrees ), 60 to 70 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes.
To prepare soaking syrup: Combine orange juice and honey in a small bowl. Brush about half the syrup over the top of the loaf. When it's fully absorbed, run a knife around the tube to loosen the loaf and invert onto the rack, set over wax paper. Brush with the remaining syrup. Let cool thoroughly.
To prepare glaze: If desired, combine confectioners' sugar with orange juice in a small bowl to make a thick, slightly fluid glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf and leave uncovered until the glaze sets, about 30 minutes.
To make ahead: Wrap airtight and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Equipment: 10-cup Bundt (or similar) pan
Note: Milled from high-protein wheats, bread flour develops strong gluten, resulting in well-risen loaves. It helps give breads with a high percentage of whole grains better structure and a lighter texture. Find it near other flours in most supermarkets.
Tips: To prepare “ice water” for this recipe, add a heaping cup of ice cubes to cold water and stir for about 30 seconds before measuring out the water.
You can turn your microwave into a warm, moist environment to help accelerate the second rise of the bread dough. Begin by microwaving 1/2 cup water in a 1-cup glass measure just to boiling. Set the water in one corner of the microwave, place the pan of dough on the other side of the turned-off microwave and close the door. The dough will double in size in 45 minutes to 11/2 hours.
Storage smarts: For long-term freezer storage, wrap your food in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. The plastic will help prevent freezer burn while the foil will help keep off-odors from seeping into the food.