Iced Christmas Fruit Wreath
For the dough
125g strong white flour
125g plain white flour
½ heaped tsp salt (approx. 4g)
¼ tsp ground cardamom
10g fresh yeast (or 1½ tsp active dried or instant dried yeast: approx. 5g)
Large knob of butter at room temperature
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tbsp ground cinnamon
Two large handfuls raisins or sultanas
Egg for glazing
handful of slivered almonds
handful of cranberries
100g icing sugar
1. Bring the milk to the boil and then add the butter to it so that it melts and brings the temperature back down. Allow it to cool further while you weigh out the flours, salt, sugar and cardamom and give the dry ingredients a quick stir with one hand to mix.
2. Weigh the yeast then pour in the milk - it should be around 35-38°C. Break the yeast up with your fingers so there are no lumps left, then add this to the dry ingredients and mix with one hand until you have a sticky, shaggy dough.
4. Scrape the dough off your fingers and leave in the bowl for 10 minutes. Wet the worktop and turn the dough out. Give it a quick 10-second knead then return it to the bowl and repeat twice i.e. leave for 10 minutes then knead for 10 seconds.
5. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover it with a hole-free plastic bag and leave at room temp until it has doubled in size (this can take anywhere between an hour, and two and a half hours depending on the temperature of the room — check after an hour).
6. Meanwhile, soak the dried fruit in a little water or brandy and set aside, and beat the egg with a little warm water (this helps the egg to spread more easily) and set this aside too.
7. Weigh out the butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling and give them a good whip up with a fork or spoon so that the butter is really easy to spread over the dough, otherwise it will catch and tear the dough.
8. Dust the worktop with flour and take the dough out of the bowl. Using a rolling pin, gently roll it into a rectangle about 15cm high and 30cm long. Don’t make it any bigger than this or it will be too thin and it will be hard to spread the butter over it. As you roll it, try to avoid knocking all the life out of the dough – treat it gently so that it retains a little of its bounciness.
9. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough (a pallet knife or plastic scraper are particularly good for this) trying not to drag the dough as you do it. Drain the fruit as much as possible (wringing it out with your hand works best I find) and sprinkle that on top of the filling, pressing it down gently so it stays in place.
10. Roll up the dough from the long edge as tightly as you can then, using a dough cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough right down the middle, lengthwise. Twist the two pieces round each other and seal them at the end (use a little of the egg wash) making the join as neat as you can.
11. Put the dough on a piece of baking parchment on top of a baking tray or chopping board and put the whole thing inside a bin bag, puffing up the bag as though you’re putting on a bed sheet, then tucking it under the whole thing, should make sure there’s enough air in there to prevent them sticking to the bag, but that no fresh air can get in, which will cause a skin to form, inhibiting the expansion of the dough.
12. Pre-heat the oven to 220° (200 fan)/ Gas Mark 6–7.
13. Leave to prove until the dough has risen by about half its size again (around 45 minutes to an hour, again at room temperature, checking after half an hour). The dough is ready when it springs back slightly but not fully when pressed gently with a floured or oiled finger.
14. Glaze with the egg/water and slide onto a hot baking sheet or baking stone to bake for around 25 minutes.
15. Weigh the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add water until it is the consistency of double cream. Spoon into a piping bag.
16. Toast slivered almonds in a dry frying pan – keep an eye on them, they can burn very quickly.
17. When the wreath is baked, leave it to cool slightly on a wire rack before drizzling with the icing and sprinkling with the cranberries and almonds. Leave to cool completely before wrapping or eating.