This fruit bread honors her baking for the season and becomes a lighter (Spring-like) version of those traditional fruit cakes at Christmas that many cringe when seeing them on the dessert table. In fact, one could call this more a "tea bread" and rightfully so, it would be great with a cup on these chilly nights.
Fruit breads were predominantly found in Eastern European countries, but also some Asian countries; Panettone from Italy, Barmbrack from Ireland, Kulich from Russia, Kolach from Czechoslovakia, and Babka from Ukraine to name a few. For Easter, the concept of eating a fruited bread or sweetened communion bread dates by to Byzantium and the Orthodox Christian Church. I always felt like the breads my mother made for Easter reflected the "renewal" after forty days of Lent and enjoying the sweetness of forgiveness by our Savior.
Easter Fruit Bread
1/3 cup fruit juice (I used apple, but orange would work too)
1 3/4 cups of assorted dried fruits--I used 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, and 3/4 cup dried cherries
zest of 1 orange--or, I used 1/3 cup diced European candied orange peel
Measure the juice into a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer on top of the stove, add the fruit, and remove from the heat. Allow to sit until cool, about 15 minutes.
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 vanilla bean split and scraped or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. Butter a "Pullman" loaf pan, then add a strip of parchment paper or wax paper to the bottom and butter that. **You could also bake this in a small bundt cake pan (10cup), mini bundt pan, or muffins. Adjust time for baking.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly, Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix well.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add along with the sour cream to the mixture. Mix on medium, just until combined. Stir in the dry fruit mixture.
Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
I baked the Pullman loaf pan for 65-70 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and when a wooden skewer is inserted in the center, it comes out cleanly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T light Karo Syrup
2 - 3 T very warm water
1/2 tsp. vanilla, or lemon, or almond flavorings
Mix ingredients together to make a smooth glaze.
Invert cake onto a serving platter or transfer to a lined cooling rack. When cool, pour glaze over the top.
This recipe is a wonderful addition to your breakfast table for Easter celebration or as a tea cake to enjoy with friends. What recipes do you hold dear for this season? Enjoy!