Holiday Fruit Bread
- In shallow bowl, combine raisins, dates, prunes and enough port to just cover.
- Let stand 30 to 60 minutes.
- Lightly oil large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal; set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In large bowl, mix flour, ½ cup sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.
- Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs; set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk egg then whisk in buttermilk, vanilla and lemon peel.
- Drain fruit; discard port.
- Add fruit to flour mixture and toss well.
- Make a well in flour mixture, add buttermilk mixture and stir briskly with wooden spoon just until dough pulls together in a mass.
- Let stand 3 minutes.
- Lightly dust work surface and hands with flour.
- Turn dough out onto surface and divide in half.
- Knead each half 30 seconds then pat into 1-inch-thick circles.
- Brush off any flour on dough, then fold each circle in half (but not perfectly, the top should be set back from bottom by about 1 inch)
- Lightly brush loaves with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar (about ½ tablespoon).
- Transfer loaves to baking sheet.
- Bake 25 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
- Continue baking until loaves are golden brown and crusty, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer loaves to wire rack and cool completely before slicing.
- To store, wrap cooled loaves in foil and refrigerate.