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David Atherton’s recipe for festive plait

Use the yudane technique to give this plait its soft crumb, and prunes and dates to bring sweetness and richness

I love festive breads, from panettone to povitica, stollen to houska: they provide an opportunity to learn new flavours and techniques. This festive plait achieves a soft crumb from the yudane technique, where boiling water gelatinises the starches in the flour, before being included into the dough. This allows the starches to absorb more liquid and provides a tender and fluffy texture without the need for butter or eggs.

Be careful as some spices can affect the yeast, and often longer proving times are needed (cinnamon is particularly tricky). The prunes and dates bring sweetness and richness with all the added benefits of vitamins and fibre. My big tip is to buy a jar of malt extract. It gives an earthy depth to so many bakes and here provides a really shiny glaze.

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