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Christmas Gin Inspired Fruit and Seed Sourdough

Our Test Kitchen developed this recipe which features apricots, dates, figs, currants and sunflower seeds, soaked in the Four Pillars limited edition Christmas Gin, plus a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

We cannot resist the special Christmas Gin that Four Pillars releases each year. Aged in 100 -year-old Muscat barrels, it has aromatics of classic juniper and a hint of cinnamon, backed up with a rich palate and a hint of sweetness from the Muscat. 

Not only is it wonderful in cocktails, but it's also delicious in this sourdough fruit loaf! 


This recipe makes two generous loaves weighing approximately 750g each.

Note - Four Pillars Christmas Gin is not required, and can be substituted for other spirits such as the The Craft & Co Gingerbread Gin or your preferred port.


300g mixed dried fruit and seeds (dates, apricots, figs, cranberries, raisins, sultanas, currants, sunflower seeds, pepitas)

¼ cup Four Pillars Christmas Gin (or tipple of your choice)

1 tblsp maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground nutmeg

30g raw sugar

100g bubbly, active sourdough starter

650g water

1,000g AllGrain Bakers Flour

17g (non-iodised) salt


1.  Chop the larger dried fruits such as dates, apricots and figs and then place the dried fruit and seeds in a small bowl. Add the gin, maple syrup, spices and sugar. Stir to combine and then leave to marinate at room temperature, ideally for an hour or two prior to commencing dough (or whilst waiting for your starter to activate).


2.  In a large mixing bowl (preferably glass) whisk together 100g bubbly starter and 650g water. Then add 1,000g Bakers Flour. Mix for a few minutes with a dough scraper until there’s no dry flour remaining. The dough at this point will be very rough and shaggy. Cover with a damp towel and rest for 30 minutes to autolyse.


3.  Poke fingers into the dough and sprinkle 17g (non-iodised) salt into the holes. Mix by hand or with a dough scraper to incorporate. 


4.  Add the marinated fruit/seed mixture and fold into the dough for about 5 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and rest for 30 minutes.


5.  Now perform three sets of stretch and fold, leaving the dough to rest, covered with a damp towel for 30 minutes between each stretch and fold. (See YouTube for many tutorials demonstrating this technique, such as this one by The Clever Carrot.)


6.  After the third stretch and fold, perform the “windowpane” test to check the dough’s strength and elasticity. See Note 1. Now leave the dough in a warm spot to complete bulk fermentation. See Note 2.


7.  Pre-shaping - at the end of bulk fermentation, gently ease the dough out of the bowl using the dough scraper. Divide into two equal portions and then shape each portion by performing envelope folds on each side and then rolling the dough to create tension. (There are many tutorials on YouTube demonstrating a variety of shaping techniques.) Cover with a damp towel and leave to rest for 20 minutes.


8.  Final Shaping – flip the doughs over in one smooth action and then repeat the envelope folds as previously and build tension again with rolling.  In one smooth action lift the doughs and place seam side up in lined and well dusted bannetons. See Note 3. Cover with a damp towel and rest for a final 15 minutes.


9.  Stitching – stitch the dough firmly to ensure good tension and an impressive ear. See Note 4.


10.  Cover the bannetons with shower caps and place in the fridge for an overnight cold proof. 


11.  The next morning preheat the oven to 250° and allow time for it to reach this temperature. Remove the bannetons from the fridge, sprinkle the doughs with Bakers Flour and cover with a piece of non-stick baking paper. Carefully invert the bannetons onto your work surface, brush off any excess flour and then score the doughs with a very sharp razor blade or lame. Using the baking paper to lift the doughs, transfer them into your roasting pans, spritz with water and cover with the lids. Bake for 20 minutes at 250°, then remove the lids and bake for a further 15 or so minutes at 180°, watching carefully as fruit loaves tend to burn easily.

Recipe Notes (Tips & Tricks!)

1.  The windowpane test is used to determine if enough strength and elasticity has been developed during the stretch and fold process. A piece of dough is stretched until it becomes a very thin membrane through which light can be seen – without tearing the dough! Check out this video for further information.


2.  Knowing when bulk fermentation is finished is one of the great challenges of sourdough bread baking! The general rule is that the dough should have doubled in size, it should look pillowy, it should be domed on top and pulling away from the sides of the bowl and, if using a glass bowl – there should be plenty of visible air bubbles dotted through the dough. The length of bulk fermentation depends on a lot of things but most importantly the temperature!  In summer in Tamworth, bulk fermentation generally takes about 5 hours (measuring from when the starter is mixed with the water and 1,000g Bakers Flour).  In winter it takes quite a bit longer!

3. Most sourdough bakers seem to prefer rice flour for dusting the bannetons, and we have certainly found this to be the case in our Test Kitchen. We use an empty spice jar with a sprinkle top for easy application. 


4.  The biggest breakthrough in the FPM test kitchen was consistently achieving an impressive “ear” on our sourdough loaves.  If we can suggest one thing – it’s to create tension in the dough. The stitching mentioned in step 9 has been a game changer for us. Once again, there are lots of videos on YouTube that demonstrate this technique, as well as this Facebook video.


This bread is perfect served with lashings of butter for breakfast, brunch or as part of an impressive grazing platter when entertaining.

If you use this recipe, we’d love to hear your feedback and see a photo! Please tag us on social media @fpmcerealmilling on Facebook and Instagram.

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