This vegan sweet bread is full of spices and dried fruit, and doesn’t require any special equipment.
It makes for the perfect gift or centrepiece on your festive table but I promise you it’s so easy. So go on, give it a try and show me your beautiful remakes!
Ingredients & Steps:
Prepare the nut & fruit mix:
300g mixed dried fruit and nuts (candied orange & lemon peel, raisins, dried cranberries, pine nuts, chopped pitted dates)
200ml orange juice
Soak your dried fruit and nuts in orange juice for 4 hours at room temp (or overnight in the fridge). Drain but do not discard the juice.
Prepare the “biga" (pre-ferment):
60g plain flour
12g fresh yeast (or 4g dry yeast)
30g warm water
Dissolve yeast in water, then add flour and knead to a smooth dough. Cover and rest for 2-4 hours or until doubled in volume.
Make the actual dough:
170g warm water
270g plain flour
30g corn flour (not to be confused with corn starch - you can omit and increase the plain flour to 300g)
Orange juice (the remaining juice filtered after soaking the dried fruits and nuts), divided
Mixed dried fruit and nuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp cloves powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp orange blossom water or essence
Dissolve your biga in water in a large bowl.
Sift together the flours and add them to the bowl in batches, mixing to incorporate.
Once the flour has been incorporated, add sugar and only about 70-80ml of orange juice. Reserve remaining juice for glazing later.
Add all spices and dried fruit & nuts mix at once.
Transfer dough to a well dusted surface and knead to distribute everything evenly. The dough will seem very wet and sticky at first and will be difficult to knead. Rest, covered for a few minutes and then start over - it will start developing the gluten as it rests and will be easier to handle.
After kneading at regular intervals for about 10 minutes, transfer back to a bowl, cover and rest for 6-8 hours in a warm, dry place. It should double in size again. Transfer to a floured surface and knead to a 15”-long log. Cut the dough down the middle, length wise, then alternate crossing the pieces over each other to create a braid.
Move the braid to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and shape into a wreath. Fold the ends under each other, so they aren’t visible. Brush the surface with the remaining orange juice to give it a nice glaze.
Allow the wreath to rise for 1 more hour, placing a glass upside down in the centre of the wreath to prevent the dough from rising sideways and closing the hole in the middle. Just remember to remove the glass before baking!
Preheat the oven to 200C and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool down then dust with icing sugar and decorate with more nuts and fruit.