This recipe is my all-time favorite for a sweet and fruity bread. It goes way-way back in our family, and can be made with either apricots or damson (prune) plums. I finally have the quintessial bread base to use for it, taken from Zoe Francois’ Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day:
(Makes a double recipe, so halve it if you are only making one cookie-sheet of bread)
Brioche Dough Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp granulated yeast ( 1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup honey
1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Extra butter to grease pan
Brioche Dough Directions:
Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded food container.
Mix in flour without kneading, using spoon, a 14-cup food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer with bread hook. Dough will be loose, but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before chilling. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp for approx 2 hours, until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top_.
Dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate in lidded container and use over next five days. Beyond 5 days, freeze dough in 1-pound portions for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow usual rest and rise times.
3 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds ripe apricots, cut in half, or damson plums, cut in half and then quartered but not into separate pieces (note: you can use frozen fruit, but let it thaw for approx. 30 min before baking)
1/2 Cup brown sugar
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting after baking
Line cookie sheet pan with foil or butter well. Separate room-temperature dough in half, use one half of dough and store the remainder in fridge or freeze for future use (see above). Roll dough out on parchment paper or well-floured counter until about pizza-crust thickness (1/3 inch) and lift into pan, tucking edges into pan. Line up apricot or plum pieces very tightly across dough, trying to allow as little dough between pieces as possible — you really want to crowd the fruit. Fill entire pan, and then allow it to rise under a towel for 30 min while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. After the rise, put the pan into the oven for the first 15 min. Then pull out and quickly sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruit and put it back in the oven. Put foil or another pan under the cookie sheet to catch boiling juices, or you will have to clean the oven afterwards — it gets juicy! Cook for an additional 20 – 25 min until the bread is nicely brown and the fruit is soft and juicy.
Allow cooked bread to cool for at least 15 – 20 min before you dust the top generously with confectioner’s sugar. Dust again when fully cooled. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. You can also serve it with sweetened fresh goat cheese if you like!