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This light textured bread is subtly flavoured with rosemary and honey, and although it contains a lot of sultanas, is not overly sweet. I thought it would be ideal for this month’s challenge on Fresh from the Oven, hosted by La Cuisine de Sarah, which was to make a fruited breakfast bread.

Although Rosemary is often thought of as a savory herb, it works beautifully in sweet recipes too. In this bread, it plays a quite understated role, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might wonder what exactly was lending that interesting undertone to the smell and flavour of the bread.

This quanity of dough will make two small loaves or twelve rolls. I actually made 1 loaf and six rolls.

Ingredients

Makes 2 small loaves or 12 rolls

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g fine salt
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 15g fresh yeast or 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 250g full fat milk
  • 30g honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g sultanas
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary leaves

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 500g loaf tins, buttered, for the loaves
  • or 2 baking trays, lined with baking parchment, for the rolls

Method

In a large bowl, stir the salt into the flour then rub in the butter. If using fresh yeast, crumble that into the flour as well; otherwise simply stir the fast action yeast in.

Warm the milk and dissolve the honey in it. Add to the bowl along with the eggs, and stir until everything comes together into a slightly sticky dough.

Scrape out onto an unfloured surface and work or knead until smooth and elastic.

Now work the rosemary and sultanas into the dough until fairly evenly incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball.

Put a half teaspoon of oil in the bowl and turn the dough over in this to coat. Cover with clingfilm or a shower cap and leave to rise until doubled in size. This is a rich dough, so it may take a bit longer than normal.

Scrape the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface. Pat it out into a disk about 2cm thick, then reform it into a ball by pulling the edge out at several points around the circumference and pressing down into the centre. Turn it over and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

To Make the Loaves

Cut the dough in two. Flatten each half into a rough oblong about 2cm thick and slightly less wide than the length of the tin. Roll up like a swiss roll and put in the tin, tucking the ends slightly down and under as you do so. Cover, and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Before baking, make a slash along the top with a sharp knife or razor blade and leave to rest for another 10 minutes.

To Make the Rolls

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk then then reform it into a ball by pulling the edge out at several points around the circumference and pressing down into the centre. Turn it over onto an unfloured part of the worktop and roll under your cupped hand to smooth the ball out. Place about 4cm apart on the baking parchment lined trays.

Before baking, slash a cross in the top with a sharp knife or razor blade, and leave to rest for another 10 minutes.

Baking

Preheat the oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8 (adjusted for fan oven). Put your baking stones in now, if you have them, and also put a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven.

Brush the top of the loaves or rolls with milk just before putting them in the oven.

As soon as the bread is in the oven, throw half a cup of water into the roasting tray, and turn the oven down to 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6 (adjusted for fan oven).

After 10 minutes, remove the roasting tray, and turn the baking trays and, if necessary, swap them between shelves to ensure even browning.

Bake the rolls for a further 10 minutes. Give the loaf another 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the loaves from their tins as soon as they come out of the oven.

For the glaze, heat the honey with the water in a small saucepan and simmer for a minute. Brush each loaf or roll twice with the glaze.

Cool on a wire rack

Notes

Some years ago, Waitrose used to sell a lovely rosemary and raisin loaf, made in the shape of a boule, and to a French recipe. More recently, I was delighed to find a recipe for Pan di Ramerino (Rosemary and Raisin Buns) in Carol Field’s The Italian Baker. This sounded like it would be very similar, and indeed it was.

Although I was inspired by that recipe, I have combined elements from it with others from Richard Bertinet’s Sweet Dough, from Nigella Lawson’s Rosemary Loaf Cake and from my trusty Good Housekeeping’s Currant Loaf.

Of course you could make your loaves in a boule shape. I just fancied something more like a traditional fruit loaf.

The Fresh from the Oven round up will be found at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families from 1st June 2012.