Cooee’s bran & fruit loaves
Ever since I can remember, my mum has made these fruit-studded bran loaves. They’re the taste of my childhood, and I love them. They’re classic, old-fashioned tea breads that are just perfect for morning or afternoon tea spread with butter or ricotta.
Makes two loaves
90g All Bran breakfast cereal
1 cup (160g) rapadura or raw sugar (220g)
900g mixed dried fruit (I include lots of pitted dates and pitted prunes)
1/2 cup (175g) honey or golden syrup (or a mixture of the two)
350ml strained tea, cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 ⅓ cups (350g) self-raising flour
Butter or ricotta, to serve
300g pecans or blanched almonds for topping, optional
Tip the All Bran, sugar, and dried fruits (there’s no need to chop the prunes and dates) into a very large bowl. Add the honey or golden syrup and cooled tea, then thoroughly mix everything together. Cover the mixture tightly and leave it in a cool place overnight. (When I’ve been short of time, I’ve made the loaves after only a few hours of soaking, and they do still work well.).
The next day, preheat your oven to 155C fan-forced. Lightly butter two medium-sized (21 x 11 x 6cm) loaf tins and line them with baking paper, then set them aside.
Stir the egg into the dried fruit mixture so it’s well combined, then thoroughly mix in the flour. The batter will be quite stiff so make sure you scrape right down to the bottom of the bowl as you do this. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth it out. Press pecan halves or almonds over the top, if liked.
Bake the loaves for about 1 ¼ hours, or until they’re deep golden and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the loaves in their tins on a wire rack. When they’re cool, ease them out of the tins. Remove the paper and slice them. Serve as is, or with a little butter or ricotta.
One of the many things I love about these loaves is that they freeze really well. But rather than freeze the loaf whole, slice it, wrap the slices individually, then freeze them in a sealed container. This way you can take out as many slices as you want.