When I’m home with the family I love indulging in a cup of masala chai (spiced tea). The authentic Indian kind, not the sort that is found in Starbucks (though that is quite tasty too!). It does take a bit longer than flipping the switch to boil the kettle as its made on the stove with lots of milk, warming spices and usually large quantities of sugar too. But the end result is something that I find relaxing and rather indulgent. Since I rarely make this tea at home (Minimal work is what I aim for, especially during the week!), it reminds me of comfort and family.
With comfort and indulgence in mind, I decided that masala chai would be fabulous in a sweet braided bread. The plums melt down into gooey fruity goodness and are a perfect match to the warming spices twisted through this yeasted bread. It looks beautiful when it comes out of the oven and the whole house smells delicious!
I must admit, my husband I couldn’t stop eating this all weekend. We found it was equally as delicious as a pre-breakfast, tea time accompaniment and after dinner pudding with hot custard. Unfortunately, only 1 slice remains, but it’s definitely calling my name!
Masala Chai Spiced Plum Bread
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- scant 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 inch cinnamon bark
- 1 stern anise
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3-4 damson plums, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Then add in the softened butter, milk and beaten egg. Mix with a spoon or your hands to combine until all the flour is incorporated and the bowl is clean. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10-12 minutes until the dough is smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a pestle and mortar, pound the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom (pods discarded), cinnamon, stern anise, ginger and nutmeg into a fine powder. Alternately, you can use a spice or coffee grinder to achieve the same result. In a small bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar with wooden spoon until smooth. Add 2 tsp of the spice mixture and combine well.
Heat the oven to 375°F.
After the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Being careful not to knock out all of the air, roll gently into a rectangle (about 12×16 inches). Spread the butter mixture to the ends of the rectangle and spread out the plums evenly.
Then, with the long edge facing you, begin to roll the dough up tightly. Don’t worry if the plums make things lumpy. With a sharp knife, slice the roll lengthways all the way through. You are now left with 2 halves. Starting at one end, twist the dough over itself to make it one long rope. Join the edges to make a circle and tuck the ends under. Lift with your hands and place into a greased 10 inch skillet or baking tin. Wrap the skillet with a large plastic bag and leave to prove for 15-20 minutes.
Once risen, remove the plastic bag and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Place into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes all is golden brown. Remove and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.