There are 3 traditions that I LOVE about Easter: hot cross buns, curried fish, and the start of the rainy season in the Cape. While we are praying for the third, the other 2 are luckily easy enough to get. Hot cross buns have a huge history, presumably dating back to the 12th century. The cross symbolises the crucifixion, and the spices resembled those used during embalming. While fish is traditionally served by Christians on Easter Friday worldwide, pickled fish is a Capetonian tradition. Drenched in a deliciously spicy curry sauce and onions, it’s the perfect accompaniment to hot cross buns – and it has been for the last couple of hundred years.
Instead of buns, I decided to make a spicy braided loaf this year. And while I had every intention of making the curried fish myself, the store-bought version was just so much easier! Here is my wholesome (and pretty!) Good Friday meal with a Spicy & Sweet Braided Loaf and Curried Fish.
Sweet & Spicy Braided Loaf
(adapted from a recipe I found in Taste Magazine)
You will need:
For the bread:
- 480 g strong bread flour
- 2 x 10 g instant yeast sachets
- 100 g brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tbsp mixed citrus peel
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 135 g sultanas and raisins
For the glaze:
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- a dash of boiling water
Step 1: Put the flour, yeast, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and bicarb in a bowl. Mix together. Then add the dried fruit and citrus peel.
Step 2: Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Then add the eggs and whisk.
Step 3: Use a spoon to mix the dry and wet ingredients until a dough forms. If necessary, add more flour until the mixture is easy to handle.
Step 4: Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Get the kids involved here – they’ll love it!! Then place in a floured bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Put it somewhere warm for 90 minutes, until it has roughly doubled in size – then you know the yeast is doing its thing!
Step 5: Once the dough has doubled, place on a floured work surface and knock it down to its original size. For the braid, cut the dough into 3 equal lengths, and start braiding.
Step 6: Secure the ends of the braid by pressing the dough pieces together – use a little bit of water to help it stick.
Step 7: Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Step 8: Place the braid on a prepared baking tray and leave for another 30 minutes to rise. Then place in the heated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean from the centre.
Step 9: While the bread is baking, add the boiling water to the apricot jam until it has melted. Once the bread is out of the oven, liberally spread the jam over the loaf while it is still hot.
Serve your pretty braided loaf with curried fish, cheese, and fresh peaches.