The proofing took a few hours but I was able to do my other household chores in-between the waiting time. By late evening (nearly sunset and I thought I'd share a picture of it from my apartment window ) I was rewarded not only with the smells of bread baking in the oven, I also had the end result of two absolutely delicious fruit loafs. It's no wonder that this recipe is called "Celebration Bread". It surely was an afternoon to celebrate as far as I was concerned.
(Makes two loafs)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 packet (7g) dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp orange extract
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup of milk, at room temperature (I used low fat milk)
1/4 ~1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash
1) Heat 1/4 cup water to 105°F~115°F (Do not exceed 115° or the yeast will die). Sprinkle active dry yeast on the surface of warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let it stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes. You will see a froth form on the top it, and you can also smell the yeast.
2) In a separate bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt.
3) Gradually stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) flour mixture into the yeast bowl. Add the orange extract, eggs, milk, and butter. Adding the remaining water, if needed, to make a soft, pliable ball of dough.
4) Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook) for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky, but not sticky. It should have a soft, pliable quality, not stiff and resistant. If it is too stiff, knead (or mix) in small amount of water until it softens; if the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle in small amounts of flour as needed.
5) Add the dried cranberries, raisins and dried fruit and knead (or mix) for another 2 minutes, or until they are evenly distributed. Then gently knead (or mix) in the walnut pieces until they are evenly distributed. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
6) Proof the dough at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. Punch down the dough to release the gas, fold the edges of dough to the center.
7) Transfer the dough to the counter and divide it into 2 equal pieces to fit 2 loaf pans (8" x 4" size). Place the dough into the pans and brush lightly with oil.
8) Proof at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until the dough nearly doubles in size. Brush the loaf a second time with the remaining egg wash. Preheat the oven to 325°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
9) Bake for approximatel 163C (325F) for 40-45 minutes or until the loaf is deep golden brown, feel very firm, and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature at the center of the loaf should register between 185~190°F.
10) Remove the bread from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.