Apricot and plum brioche is real summer recipe. Both apricots and plums are seasonal fruits and it is easy to find very nice varieties. Apricots are at their best and cheapest in July, but avoid any fruit that feels spongy. Apricots can vary greatly in quality. If they taste woolly and bland when eaten fresh, cook them into a dish and they will become luscious and flavoursome. The British plum season starts in late July with the Opal variety and finishes in mid-to late-September with the Marjorie Seedling. Each variety has a 2-3 week season. Plums develop an intense flavour when cooked. They make excellent jam, jelly and fruit cheese, but can also be bottled. Strong spices such as star anise, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper all taste good with poached plums. Cream and custard based accompaniments such as ice cream or rice pudding balance their flavour. Out-of-season imported plums can be cooked, but are much sweeter and taste best eaten raw.
100 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp whole milk, lukewarm
½ x 7 g sachet easy blend or fast action yeast
175 g strong white flour
1 tbsp caster sugar, plus 1 tsp for sprinkling
1 egg, beaten
2 plums, stones removed
2 apricots, stones removed
2 tbsp maple syrup
Icing sugar, for dusting
Grease and line the base of a 900 g loaf tin with baking parchment. Mix the warm milk and yeast together in a small bowl. Place into a large bowl with the flour, butter, 1 tbsp caster sugar, egg and a large pinch of salt. Using a food processor fitted with a dough hook, knead vigorously for 10 – 12 minutes (or longer if kneading by hand) until a soft, smooth dough is formed.
Cut 1 plum and 1 apricot into small cubes, about 1 cm. Cut the remaining fruit into slices and set aside. Add the diced fruit to the dough and knead in lightly. Shape the dough into an oval and place into the prepared tin.
Drape some lightly buttered clingfilm over the top and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5.
Scatter the sliced fruit over the top of the loaf, drizzle over the maple syrup and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp of caster sugar. bake for 30 minutes until golden until golden and risen. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes, then turn out and dust with icing sugar. Cut into thick slices and serve warm, or leave the brioche to cool completely on a wire.