Don’t let the 45% sugar scare you… This loaf is sooo gooood!
This sugar loaf is traditionally made in the Dutch province of Friesland and very famous there. So it’s what we would call a ‘Fries suikerbrood’, Fryske Sûkerbôle in Frisian or Frisian sugar loaf. The recipe is my adaptation from the one I got from a local miller.
Before you start making the actual sugar loaf, it is very important you make something I call a ‘sweetener’ or in other words, citrus zest rubbed in sugar. It’s very simple to make, but essential for the taste of the sugar loaf. Take the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange (unwaxed, organic) and mix the zest with 40 grams of sugar. You can make more and make it in advance and store it in the fridge, it keeps very well. For this recipe you need 30 g of the sweetener. It is also used in things like stollen and raisin buns.
Ingredients for the Sugar Loaf
makes 1 loaf
300 g bread flour / all purpose flour / French Type 55
20 g fresh yeast or 7 g instant yeast
165 g fresh milk, lukewarm
6 g salt
30 g soft butter
20 g ‘sweetener’ (see method above)
3 g ground cinnamon
200 g sugar lumps, broken into pieces
Note: We use European flour which absorbs a few % less water /milk than American type flour. People using American type of flour should add 5-15 ml extra milk to the dough.
Making the Sugar Loaf
If you use fresh yeast, dissolve it in the milk, instant yeast can be added to the flour. Make a dough using all the ingredients, leaving the sugar cubes and cinnamon out!, and adding the butter last, when the dough starts forming a ball. Knead until you have an elastic dough, about 8 minutes with a spiral mixer, with your hands it takes longer, about 15 minutes. Leave to rest in a covered bowl for 30 to 40 minutes. Make sure this is done in a room that has the right temperature (about 24ºC / 75ºF to 27ºC / 80ºF would be ideal).
The 200 g of sugar lumps are broken into pieces by putting them in a towel and breaking them with a hammer (a very satisfying job). The pieces can be all different shapes and sizes. In the oven they will melt and caramelize in the loaf, giving the bread it’s distinctive look and taste. Now mix the sugar pieces with the ground cinnamon and carefully pinch them through the dough. You can leave most of the finer grit out of it, the bigger lumps and pieces are the most important to incorporate. When they are distributed evenly, carefully shape the dough into a ball, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Now form the dough into a loaf shape. First make a rectangle and fold both ends left and right so the ends of the sides are only just overlapping ‘envelope style’, then roll it up. We use special aluminum tins for these loaves, but you can also use a bread pan or alternatively put the loaf on a baking sheet, (sugar will come out of the loaf and can drip on your oven floor so make sure this cannot happen!). Cover with greased cling film and let it prove for about 1 hour, again in a warm place. When you think the loaf has risen enough, use your floured finger to carefully make a very small dent in the dough. If the dent remains, the bread is ready to bake, if the indentation disappears, the dough needs a little bit more time.
Preheat the oven at 200ºC / 390ºF. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on it so the top will not burn (you can cover the top with alu foil if it browns too fast or turn the oven down a notch). Take it from the oven and do NOT touch the bread with your hands because the caramelized sugar is very HOT! But when it has cooled to just warm, be the first to taste it, with or without fresh dairy butter. So good!