Friday, December 18, 2009

Bishop's Bread

Bishop's Bread is, first and foremost, NOT fruitcake, though it contains fruits and nuts and candies. So what is it? It is fruits and nuts and candies held together by a dry dough. It keeps well and travels well. Though it should be refrigerated for long term storage, it also ships well.

Legend has it that Bishop's Bread got its name because it was what the local Bishop would take with him around holiday time as he travelled from church to church, tending to and visiting with his flock over the holidays. Because it keeps and travels so well, it was his sustenance while on the road--and presumably between the sumptuous meals provided at his very stops. Can't say that I've ever seen a thin Bishop in all the old pictures. 

I first got a recipe for Bishop's Bread many, many years ago. I think it was from my sister, Jean. If you know different, let me know. But when I first made it, I fell in love with it. And everyone I've shared it with through the years has also fallen in love with it. I'm often asked at Christmastime if I'm making Bishop's Bread again--a gentle hint from my friends, I know. Here is my recipe:

Bishop's Bread
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 10 oz. bag of shelled Brazil nuts (about 2 cups)
  • 8 oz. whole walnuts (about 2 cups)
  • 1 12 oz bag of dark chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • 1 10 oz container of pitted whole dates (about 2 cups)
  • 10 oz of candied whole cherries (mix of red and green) or 12 oz of maraschino cherries, drained)
Preaheat the oven to 275-degrees. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients (sugar and eggs) until well mixed. Sift flour and baking powder together (a pinch of salt is a good idea but not required) and add to wet ingredients. Stir just until the flour is mixed in. Do not over-beat. Now add the other ingredients and stir until combined.

This batch (which can be easily halved, but what's the point in that?) makes the following (with these baking times):
  • 2 9/5 loaf pans -- 1 3/4 hours
  • 3 8x4 loaf pans -- 1 1/4 hour
  • 7 5x3 loaf pans -- 1 hour

Disposable aluminum pans work the best here. Spray each pan with Baker's Joy (tip: spray in the sink or over the dishwasher door) or grease each pan and add wax paper (trust me, disposable aluminum is the way to go, it makes it very easy to remove the loaf once baked). Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake according to the guide above, but start checking about 15 minutes early. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean (unless, of course, you stab a chocolate chip--in that case, try again.

Once done, remove from oven and cool slightly on a rack. When still warm, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 3 days before slicing.

To slice, us a very sharp knife, granton edge works best. If you do not have a very sharp knife, use a serrated bread knife or a bread knife. The Bishop's Bread cuts best when cold, but can be served at room temperature. This bread keeps for a long time. Some years ago, I found a leftover piece tucked in the back of the refrigerator in April--I ate it an it was still good. I have no idea how long it lasts in the freezer, it never lasts that long around my house.

Variations? Of course you can. How about pecans instead of the walnuts. Different chips? Certainly. Don't like cherries? Try something else. Hazelnuts instead of Brazil nuts? Why not? No matter what combination you use, you'll love this recipe, I guaran-damn-tee it! 

There, now you have my secret recipe. Give it a try and leave me a comment. It's great for gift-giving too--as many of my friends and family can attest to.

Bardzo smaczne! That's Polish for "very good eats!"

1 comment:

  1. Well, I can see why your version would be so good-- you buy the absolute best ingredients. And no citrus! FTW!