Spiced Fruit Sourdough | Recipes | Moorlands Eater (2024)

Spiced Fruit Sourdough uses my easy, overnight, no-knead bread baking method to create a loaf full of rich flavour.

Dried fruits are steeped in honeyed black tea and orange zest and folded into a spiced dough made the night before.

Using the soaking liquid in place of water in the dough adds even more flavour.

Baked in a covered pot, the loaf is moist but with a crunchy crust.

Lovely eat spread with butter or cheese. Great toasted too.

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For this year’s Sourdough September, an initiative of theReal Bread Campaign to promote the making of proper sourdough, I’d set myself the challenge of creating some new, flavoured versions of my basic sourdough bread recipe.

First was my Sourdough Beer Bread which turned out pretty good. Even better was a

But, for my final experiment I decided to make a sweet rather than savoury loaf

The result was Spiced Fruit Sourdough.

To be honest though, the development of this recipe was a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

I was excited by the challenge and loved the smells as I was prepping and baking the bread.

But I was a little concerned that the dough hadn’t risen that much, either overnight or in the oven.

Spiced Fruit Sourdough | Recipes | Moorlands Eater (3)

However, my fears of a heavy loaf weren’t realised. As I hope you can see from the images, even with the addition of some rye flour, it still had the characteristic open structure of sourdough too.


When we were growing up, my mother often made a fruit cake where the fruit was soaked in black tea to intensify the flavour. I decided to incorporate this idea into my recipe.

This made me think of Welsh Bara Brith or ‘speckled bread’.

But when I looked at recipes for inspiration, most versions seemed to be more cake-like than bready, using self-raising flour. However, I knew I didn’t want to go in the cake direction. After all, the whole point of the experiment was to widen my repertoire of sourdough bread.

So I decided to stick to my basic sourdough recipe but replace the water with the soaking tea,sweetened with honey. I added grated orange zest too as this always goes well with fruit breads.

I also wanted to add spices to my bread.

After toying with the idea of cinnamon and ginger, I finally settled upon two-thirds mixed spice and one-third cinnamon. The mixed spice in my cupboard seemed very nutmeggy and I thought the extra cinnamon would balance out the flavour a little. [Since writing this recipe, I’ve also made a version which uses chai masala spices and chai tea to soak the fruit. I’ve added this variation at the end of this post].


For all my sourdoughs, you need to start the bread making process the night before you want to bake.

Actually, if like me you store your starter in the fridge between irregular baking, you’ll need to plan a bit further ahead.

This is so you can feed it and bring it back to bubbly life again over several days.

My sourdough method is an overnight one. I always feed the starter mid-morning and then mix up the dough in the evening before leaving overnight.

Before beginning this recipe, you might want to first read my No-knead Sourdough post. This will give you an overview of my no-knead, overnight method. You’ll also learn why I bake bread in a lidded cast iron casserole and find a link to making your own starter.

I made the hot, honeyed tea in the morning and left the fruit and zest to steep in it all day. This meant I could incorporate the cold soaking liquid into the dough that evening. You could probably get away with just a few hours. But it was convenient for me to do it this way.

I usually mix 400 ml of water in my bread doughs. However, I knew the fruit would suck up some of it, so made 500 ml of tea for my Spiced Fruit Sourdough.

When I was ready to make the dough, I strained the fruit through a fine sieve, pushing down on the fruit to get most of the liquid out of them. I put the fruit in a covered bowl in the fridge as I wouldn’t be incorporating it into the dough until the next morning.

By the way, when you’re sieving, remember to do it into a jug, not down the sink! Sounds obvious, but I’ve lost precious cooking liquors more than once that way!

Mixing the dough is really simple. I used one-third rye flour, two-thirds white wheat bread flour and mixed in the spices and salt. I dissolved the starter in the reserved soaking liquid which made it look like milky tea.

With a rubber spoon, I mixed the two together into a rather wet and sticky dough. Don’t attempt to knead the dough – you’ll get in a mess. As you can see from the image below, the dough will be rough looking, but don’t worry. It’s supposed to be like that at this stage.

Next, I covered the bowl with cling-film and left it overnight and part of the morning: a total of 15 hours.


Because I’d used a fair bit of rye flour, which contains less gluten, the dough had not risen greatly by morning. But the smell was lovely and spicy.

To incorporate the plumped fruit, I flattened out the dough on a very well-floured work surface. Make sure you’ve plenty of extra flour to hand to do this as it can get quite sticky!

I find it easiest to start with half the fruit. Sprinkle it over the surface of the flattened dough then bring over the sides, right and left, to cover the filling. The fold over the top and bottom edges. Using a dough scraper really helps with wet, sticky doughs.

Flatten the dough again, then top with the remaining fruit. Fold the sides over again.

I kept folding the dough over itself until the mixture was incorporated throughout.

Folding the sides over the middle, then folding in half a couple of times will help to improve the finished texture of the dough anyway and should help to create the classic hole-filled crumb of a sourdough loaf.

When I’m happy with the state of the dough, I work it into the rough shape of my well-floured proving basket. If you don’t have a proving basket then use a tea towel-lined bowl, well floured.

Leave the dough on on the work surface to rest for 10 minutes first though, covered with cling film or the upturned bowl.

After 10 minutes, I gave it another quick fold then put it in the proving basket, covered it, then left it for 90 minutes.


For the final 30 minutes of proving time, I pre-heated the oven to 250 degrees centigrade (500F or Gas 10). I put in a cast-iron pot (I use a Le Creuset 29 cm/4.7 litre oval casserole), including lid, to pre-heat too.

After 90 minutes rising, I turned the oven down to 220 degrees (425F or Gas 7), carefully removed the pot and flipped the dough in so that the side that was facing up in the proving basket was now face down in the pot. I slashed the top, put the lid back on and placed the whole thing in the oven.

You need to leave the bread for 30 minutes, ideally with no peeking, to allow the steam created in the pot to bake the bread and create a lovely crust. During that time, your kitchen will be filled with the most delicious aroma of baking bread and spice.

After 30 minutes, I remove the pot from the oven, take the bread out of it and put the bread directly back on the oven shelf to finish baking. This usually takes a further 10-20 minutes.

I often find I need to turn the oven down again if the outside is getting too brown before the bread is cooked through, and that was certainly the case here. Presumably it browned (or rather blackened in some places) more quickly because of the higher sugar content from the fruit and honey.

When the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, it should be cooked. Leave the bread to cool on a wire rack.


I could hardly wait for the bread to be cool enough to cut into. I really wanted to know what the texture would be like.

As expected, the loaf hadn’t risen spectacularly due to the rye flour and lots of fruit. But I had no idea what effect these would have on the formation of the crumb. Would it be one big, dense mass?

The crust crunched and crackled in a most satisfying manner as I cut into the loaf. The smell of fresh baked bread and spicy fruits rose up.

It had worked! A lovely open textured crumb that looked moist and hearty without being heavy.

It didn’t take me long to get the butter out and eat a slice…

As I’d hoped, the flavour was strong and spicy with a hint of orange coming through. There was just the right amount of fruit and beneath the crunchy crust the texture was moist and chewy. There was enough sweetness too. But this was definitely the fruited bread I was aiming for and not a cake.

I wondered what the bread would be like with some cheese, so I cut myself another slice. I buttered it and ate it with a piece of mature cheddar. Yes, they went very nicely together.

So ended my experiments for Sourdough September. For this year anyway.

I was pleased with all my results. This demonstrated to me how versatile a basic sourdough method is once you’ve got the hang of it and the confidence to play around a bit.


Loving how my original Spiced Fruit Sourdough Loaf turned out, I’ve since made it withh Indian chai masala spices and chai tea bags.

This made a wonderful, spicy and peppery, loaf.

I used 3 chai tea bags and 1 regular black tea bag in 500ml of hot water. I replaced the cinnamon and mixed spice with 3 teaspoons of chai masala spices. The rest of the recipe was exactly the same.

I would love to hear from everyone who’s made my Spiced Fruit Sourdough or their own variation on it.

Leave a comment and don’t forget to rate the recipe!

Spiced Fruit Sourdough | Recipes | Moorlands Eater (21)

4.81 from 31 votes


Spiced Fruit Sourdough Loaf

Spiced Fruit Sourdough uses my easy, no-knead bread baking method to create a loaf full of rich flavour. Dried fruits are steeped in honeyed black tea and orange zest and folded into a spiced dough made the night before. Using the soaking liquid in place of water in the dough adds even more flavour.


Servings 1 large loaf


For the fruit:

  • 500mlhot black tea
  • 1tbsphoney
  • 75graisins
  • 75gcurrants
  • 1orange,zest onlyfinely grated

For the dough:

  • 600gflour (e.g. 200g rye/400g white wheat)
  • 1.5tspsalt
  • 1tspcinnamon
  • 2tspmixed spice
  • 60mlsourdough starterapprox 60g if measuring by weight


The day before you want to bake the bread

    For the fruit:

    1. Dissolve the honey in the hot tea.

    2. Combine the raisins, currants and orange zest in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot tea over. Cover and leave for 3-6 hours.

    3. Using a fine sieve, strain the fruit over a jug, reserving the soaking liquid. Set fruit aside, covered in the fridge, until the next day.

    4. Measure the soaking liquid and make up to 400 ml with tap water if necessary. Set aside until you're ready to make the dough.

    For the dough:

    1. In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt and spices together.

    2. Dissolve the sourdough starter in the reserved soaking liquid.

    3. Stir the liquid into the flour, salt and spices. Bring together into a rough dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

    4. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave overnight or 14-16 hours.

    On the day of baking:

    1. Scrape the dough out of its bowl onto a well-floured worktop and flatten out.

    2. Spread half the soaked fruit over the dough. Fold over the sides of the dough to cover the mix and flatten the dough again.

    3. Spread the rest of the fruit over the dough, fold over the sides again and continue folding until it's distributed evenly

    4. Shape your loaf to the proving vessel, cover with cling film and leave to rest 10 min.

    5. After 10 min place the dough into lined, floured proving basket or tea towel-lined bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 90 min.

    6. After 60 min preheat oven to 250C/500F/Gas 10 and put a cast iron pot with lid into the oven.

    7. After 90 mins, carefully flip the dough from the proving basket into the pot, slash the top, replace the lid and put in the oven. Turn heat down to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Bake for 30 min.

    8. After 30 min remove pot from the oven, take bread out and put bread directly on the oven shelf. Bake for 10-20 min until the bread is cooked through, turning down the oven if necessary to stop the outside burning

    9. Leave on a wire rack to cool.

    Recipe Notes

    Different flours will absorb varying amounts of water so you may need to increase or decrease the liquid measurements.

    To make Chai Masala Spiced Fruit Sourdough variation: use 3 chai tea bags and 1 regular black tea bag to make the tea and replace the mixed spice and cinnamon with 3 tspn of chai masala mix.


    Spiced Fruit Sourdough | Recipes | Moorlands Eater (2024)


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