Festive Apricot, Orange & Almond Bread

EpicureanPiranha | May 13th, 2011 - 01:35

Apricots, Oranges, Almonds & Exotic Cardamom Combine in This Gorgeous Rich Bread

Last weekend was Mother’s Day, and I wanted to make something special for my darling Mom. At this time of the year, when the freshness of spring is in the air, she prefers to be outdoors planting flowers and tending to her lovely garden as opposed to being indoors baking. My Mother, and indeed my Father as well, prefers a good, homemade bread to most pastries and cakes, so I thought I’d surprise her with a rich yeast bread of some kind.

Pink Temptation 01

Roses and delicate blue flowers in Mom’s front garden.

Mom loves the fresh flavour of oranges in baked goods, so I set about searching through my vast collection of cookbooks, food magazines, and recipe clippings for inspiration. I finally came across the tantalizing image of a loaf shaped in the form of a crown, topped with flaked almonds and golden orange zest, and stuffed with apricots. It was a recipe I had clipped from a grocery store magazine back when I lived in London (England), hoping to try it someday. When I read through the actual recipe, it seemed made to measure for what I had in mind The rich dough, laced with fresh orange zest, is stuffed with two fragrant fillings before being shaped and baked. One of these is composed of dried apricots, fresh orange juice and zest, and is flavoured with the warm notes of cardamom, which I love. The other is a homemade orange-scented almond paste.

Apricot orange almond bread VI 05

After baking, the loaf is drizzled with an orange or orange liqueur-flavoured glaze, then sprinkled with almonds and sugared orange zest for a lovely effect.

Why Use Bread Flour?

The bread dough calls for strong, white flour, also known as bread flour. This type of flour makes a dough that is more elastic than dough prepared with ordinary flour (and so tends to be a little harder to manipulate), but the baked result is well worth the effort. The cooked bread dough bakes light and tender with a firm, golden crust.

Apricot orange almond bread VII10

Delicious, rich, tender orange-flavoured bread, filled with an orange, almond, apricot filling, is perfect for breakfast or as an afternoon treat!

I made a few changes for the better to the recipe, and presented the ingredients in a way that will simplify making it. I prepared the dough using a KitchenAid, but if you prefer, just knead it by hand. Even though the recipe looks lengthy, it doesn’t take that much “actual” time to make and is fairly simple. All that’s needed is a little patience, and you can do other things while the dough is rising!

This lovely bread is delicious as is or served with cold butter, which is how I like it!  My parents absolutely loved it, and it is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again

Festive Apricot Orange & Almond Bread

You will need a mixing bowl in addition to the bowl of your stand mixer, a rolling pin, and a lightly floured baking sheet. You can also use a sheet of baking parchment on which to roll the dough and help you form the roll.

Apricot orange almond bread 04

Finely ground almonds, dried apricots, fresh oranges, and warm, fragrant cardamom, are ingredients that go into the making of this beautiful rich bread. The prepared almond paste, can be seen to the far right, and the prepared apricot orange filling is in the centre.

Apricot Orange Filling

Metric Ingredient Preparation
150 g Ready-to-eat, dried apricots Chopped, but not too finely.
1 Orange Zest and juice (about 60 ml of juice).
30 ml Brown sugar Packed (or golden caster sugar).
3.5 ml Ground cardamom
  • Place ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat.
  • Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened. Set aside to cool.

Almond Orange Filling

Metric Ingredient Preparation
100 g Finely ground almonds
Orange Zest and juice (about 60 ml of juice), zest reserved for the bread dough*.
30 ml Brown sugar Packed (or golden caster sugar).
1.5 ml Ground cardamom
  • Mix the ground almonds with the sugar and cardamom, and add enough juice to make a thick paste. Set aside.
  • Stir remaining juice into the apricot mixture.

Orange-scented Bread Dough

Metric Ingredient Preparation
350 g Strong, white (bread) flour You will need extra for kneading & rolling.
2.5 ml Sea salt
25 g Sugar
4 g Quick rise, instant (fast action) yeast
200 ml Warm milk (38C), plus a little extra
75 g Butter Room temperature – it needs to be quite soft.
Zest from one orange* Refer to the Almond Orange filling above*.
1 Large egg Beaten.
  • In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, add 100 g of the flour, the salt, 15 ml of the sugar, and the yeast. Whisk to blend the ingredients.
  • Add 150 ml of the warm milk, place the bowl onto the stand, and beat with the flat beater until well blended, a few minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat a few seconds more.
  • Remove the beater, scraping any dough off it and back into the bowl; scrape the sides of the bowl, leaving the starter in the bowl. Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel, and place in a warm, draft-free area for 20 to 30 minutes until risen. It will be quite puffy when ready.

**For the following steps always start at the “stir”setting and never use a setting higher than 2.**

  • Once the starter is ready, add the remaining flour, the remaining sugar, the butter, the orange zest*, and the egg. Stir in a little of the remaining milk. Using the dough hook, stir until ingredients for 60 seconds, then mix on no. 2 setting until dough starts to form.
  • If the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk. If it seems too wet, add a little more flour. This dough should not be too dry. Continue to knead the dough on no.2, scraping the bowl as needed, until the dough no longer clings to the bowl and starts to make a ball on the dough hook. It should be fairly smooth. Note: A more moist dough is tougher to handle but once baked will yield a more delicate texture.
  • Remove the dough hook, and scrape off any dough back into the bowl. Detach the bowl from the mixer.
  • Flour your hands and pick up the dough, gathering into a smooth ball. Place the ball, seam side down, into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and allow the dough to rest in a warm, draft-free place, until it has doubled in size, from 45 to 60 minutes.

Now this is the slightly tricky bit, as the dough will be quite elastic! Just be patient!

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The rich dough after the first prooving. It is laced with orange zest for extra flavour.

  • Once the dough is ready, punch it down lightly and turn out on a floured surface. Knead lightly, then roll out into a rectangle that measures approximately 46 by 21 cm. Note that these measurements are approximate. You can make a slightly larger rectangle, and the bread will turn out perfectly.
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After rolloing out the dough, the almond paste is spread carefully over it. This is topped with the apricot mixture prior to being rolled up, jelly roll fashion.

  • Now spread the orange almond paste mixture over the dough using a metal spoon, and leaving a 2.5 cm border around the edge of the rectangle. Spread the apricot orange mixture over this, and very carefully roll up the dough, from one of the longer edges, to enclose the filling and form a roll. Keep the roll as even as possible.
  • Coil the roll to make a wreath, and place on the lightly floured baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, slice evenly at regular intervals from top to bottom all round the edge, leaving the center intact.
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The roll is coiled into a wreath, placed on a baking sheet, and the edges are slashed through with a knife.

  • Fan the edges slightly, then cover the ring loosely with cling film and allow to rest in a draft-free place for another 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Put the wreath into the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 190C and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, until the loaf is risen and golden. When it’s done, the crust will be firm and sound hollow when tapped, and the loaf will easily lift off the baking sheet.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Orange-scented Glaze & Decoration

Metric Ingredient Preparation
80 g Icing sugar Sifted.
15 ml Butter Melted.
15 – 30 ml Orange juice, Grand Marinier, or other orange liqueur
50 g Flaked almonds Toasted if desired.
1/2 Orange Zest, tossed in 5 ml of sugar (or golden caster sugar).
  •  In a small bowl or measuring cup, blend the icing sugar with the melted butter and enough juice or liqueur to make a fairly runny glaze.
  • Drizzle generously over the loaf, and immediately scatter with almonds. Then scatter the sugared orange zest over the almonds.

Allow to set for at least an hour if you wish to wrap up the loaf in cellophane and a pretty ribbon to give as a gift.

10 Responses to “Festive Apricot, Orange & Almond Bread”

  1. Irene says:

    Ça doit être bon! Bonne soirée x

  2. airosmith says:

    Thanks, I will try this recipe ♥ it looks great! I especially like the detailed information.

    • Hi Kevin! Thanks so much for registering on my webzine :-} I’m really pleased that you like the recipe and can’t wait for you to tell me how it turned out for you! If you don’t have any cardamom, you can leave it out, but the warmth of this lovely spice really adds to it! You can use cardamom in many dishes as well. One of my favourites is a caramelised pear & cardamom upside down cake :-)

  3. hsfaith says:

    I talked to a friend who made this and said how wonderful it wa, SO I AM MAKING THIS FOR A SUNDAY MORNING BRUNCH!

  4. Fleur says:

    Wow! Looks delicious…I will have to try it!

    • Hey Sis! Thanks :-) I hope you do ~ you and Ron will love it! Hellen just left me a message to say she’ll be making it for brunch this weekend.

      I’ve been making pizza dough for pizza and calzone tonight. Spinach, garlic, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella calzone with fresh rosemary and oregano, and a fresh asparagus and garlic shrimp pizza :-)

      PS How’s the weqather in Alaska? I hope all the snow is gone! Just teasing :-) Will call you soon xxxx

  5. Rosie says:

    Chère petite Marie,

    Tu sais comment moi et ton père avons adoré ce pain riche et tellement délicieux. J’aime beaucoup ton article et la façon dont tu as rédigé ta recette. Les photos sont superbes, et les instructions très claires – je crois qu’un débutant pourrait réussir ce pain sans trop de problèmes ! Cependant, même si je pourrais en préparer moi-même, tu peux m’en refaire aussi souvent que tu veux :-) Reviens nous voir bien tôt !

    Maman xxx

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