My mother hates wholemeal bread. It reminds her of her childhood in the Cultural Revolution when wholemeal flour was all that they had access to. White flour was only for Chinese New Year. I thought of her as I tweaked the original recipe, substituting rye flour for plain.
There’s this curdling mix of sharp pain and nauseating guilt every time I think of my mother’s early years. Those were appalling decades completely unimaginable to me – the spoilt privately-educated girl who’s practically floated through life. My stomach tightens into dead knot when I think of her childhood experiences with food. The famine, the rations, the fact that she had scoured for food for herself at the tender age of 13. And there’s me, her “foodie” daughter, who has eaten at one-, two-, three-Michelin Starred restaurants all before even reaching 25. You can choose to only use plain flour for this if you too suffer from an aversion to whole grains. I’ve made this three times now. It’s a solid recipe that yields reliable results. It’s also a forgiving recipe, and you can change up the dried fruits.
Recipe adapted from Food52
Makes one loaf
100g candied citrus peel
2 tsp active dried yeast
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp olive oil
150g plain flour
100g rye flour
1/2 tsp salt
Soak the raisins in warm water for at least thirty minutes. Drain the raisins thoroughly and keep the liquid.
Pour 3/4 cups of the liquid into a bowl – it should be tepid, not cold or water. Stir in the yeast and the sugar. Leave to stand in a warm spot for about ten minutes or until the mixture gets foamy/creamy.
Mix together the flours and salt.
Add the oil and half the flour mixture. Stir to combine then add the rest of the flour. Mix the dough by hand, if it’s too sticky add a bit more flour. Knead for about 5 minutes on a floured surface, you don’t have to go overboard with it.
Put the dough back into the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, toss your raisins and candied citrus peels together with just a small tsp of flour, so they’re all coated.
Roll your dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (about 0.5-1cm thickness is fine). Evenly sprinkle on about 1/3 of the dried fruit mixture. Press it down, and roll it up from the long side.
Then repeat this process twice, in the last time, make sure you tuck in the ends and form it into a loaf. Place on a lined baking sheet, cover loosely with a kitchen towel and wait for it to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 200C. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a dark brown crust forms.
Leave to cool completely before slicing. This bread keeps quite well (like a week).