Juliet’s Dried Fruit and Nut Bread

Every morning, our hotel in Verona, Italy served this dried fruit and nut bread for breakfast. Slathered with butter, it was the epitome of the hearty, fresh food Italians eat every day.

The good news is— using frozen white bread dough, you can make this in six hours, from thawing to a lovely baked loaf.

You’ll need:

  • 1 loaf – frozen bread dough
  • 1 cup – chopped dried fruits, briefly rehydrated in hot water and drained, a combination of any and all that you like/have on hand. Suggestions:
    • Dates: They add a definite pop of sweet!
    • Cherries
    • Cranberries
    • Golden raisins
    • Apples
    • Figs
    • Plums
    • Apricots
  • 1/3 cup – chopped nuts
  • All the nuts in bread in Verona were walnuts (a favorite!) but use what suits you. Suggestions:
    • Walnuts
    • Almonds
    • Filberts (Hazelnuts)
    • Pecans

Coat a bowl or loaf pan with cooking spray. Place frozen loaf in pan and cover with plastic wrap, sprayed to keep it from sticking to the dough. It’ll thaw in about an hour, more or less, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Once you can stick your fingers all the way through the dough, you’re ready to add the fruit and nuts. Use a baking mat or sprinkle your counter lightly with flour. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the loaf almost in half, leaving the bottom edge connected, then press it with your fingers or roll it out flat. If it tries to spring back, let it rest a few minutes then press or roll some more. Bread is very forgiving!

Now you’re ready to sprinkle the nuts and fruits evenly over the flattened dough. You have two options:

Easiest: Roll it up like cinnamon bread, seal the edges and put it back into the loaf pan.

Or: Roll it up and do a little kneading to distribute the fruit/nut mixture throughout the loaf. If you do that, you can reshape the loaf into a round loaf (boule) or any other shape you like. The fruit and nuts will try to poke out; just push them back in. The exterior doesn’t have to be smooth.

Either way, cover with the plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and let the bread rise until about double. Place in a cold oven, set it to 350F, and bake until golden brown on top and sides, about 3o-35 minutes. There’s a lot of moist fruit distributed through the dough, so internal temp should be 195F with an instant read thermometer. Carefully remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

I know, I know. The way it smells, you want to dig right in, but cutting it now will mash the rise, so let cool at least 30 minutes. Cut with a serrated knife, slather it with butter, and enjoy! Juliet would be so proud. #ADaughterofFairVerona

Fair disclosure; I like a multi-grain loaf and that worked particularly well with this bread, so I made mine from scratch. That’s easy with a bread machine or a heavy duty mixer fitted with a dough ook or, if you’re in the mood, your own hands kneading the dough, but it does take more time. Or use the no-knead recipe like the one on my website! #DaughterofMontague #ChristinaDodd