225g dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel, etc)
2cup strong black tea
55ml milk, lukewarm (110-115°f)
active dry yeast -1 (1/4-ounce) package
300g plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter (unsalted, softened)
Place the tea and dried fruit in a bowl and let soak for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Mix the yeast, warm milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar together in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and spices. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, butter and salt.
Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together.
Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet or a little more milk if it is too dry.
Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky.
Drain the dried fruit and knead a little at a time into the dough until all the fruit has been incorporated.
Remove the dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch down to deflate. Knead lightly for 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and placed in a buttered 7-8-inch cake pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. This makes one 7-8-inch round loaf.
Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a rack and cool.
Serve with a spread of butter and a wee cup of Irish Tea.