This Bishop’s Bread is a rich, luscious loaf, thickly studded with cherries and nuts, with just the right amount of sweet in the glaze.
Today I’m sharing a recipe for one of my family’s favorite Christmas time treats. Bishop’s Bread, which is a Christmas fruit bread but not a fruit cake, has been part of our holiday baking for a long time.
It’s something I make as gifts for family and friends and ranks right up there with the Biscotti and venison jerky that I make every year.
We were first introduced to this fruit and nut bread over 30 years ago at our local university’s Christmas Madrigal Dinner.
Which was a magical dinner theatre complete with period costumes, entertainment, and food processions to the high table where the king and queen and nobles sat. Lots of fond memories.
And this fruit bread was served with the dessert course every single year.
So I decided that I needed to have the recipe so we could all enjoy more than 1 slice per Christmas!
After combing cookbooks and the internet I cobbled a recipe together that’s very close to what we were served there, with only cherries and pecans.
Except that I decided to put a lightly sweet glaze on top instead of the heavier powdered sugar icing that it’s usually adorned with.
Bishop’s Bread has a long history with different versions of how it got it’s name and where it originated.
And there are about a bazillion recipes for it, too. Some are really stuffed with candied fruits and are more like what we would call a fruitcake, and others have chocolate chips in the mix.
I’m partial to the version that I was served first, though. And as holiday breads go, this one is on the lighter side.
In my version, I chose to use dehydrated cherries because that’s what I had in the pantry. Feel free to use fresh or even frozen cherries.
They would both work equally well.
If you use the fresh or frozen ones, make sure that you toss them in a Tbsp or so of flour and add them after everything else is mixed well. That will keep them from “bleeding” and turning the dough pink.
Unless, of course, you want pink dough, in which case just throw them in. 🙂
OK, enough talk. This recipe makes one loaf, but it scales up really well. Here’s what you’ll need:
- ½ cup butter (1 stick) at room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup dried cherries (or 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts like walnuts or almonds)
To learn about dehydrating your own foods, click here.
Preheat your oven to 325°F.
Butter your loaf tin and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Add the pecans and cherries and stir them in. Unless you’re using fresh or frozen cherries and you need to add them last.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and combine well.
Spoon batter into a buttered loaf pan and smooth the top. It’s quite a stiff batter, almost like a cookie dough.
Hmmm…Bishop’s Cookies? Might have to give that a try!
Bake at 325° F for an hour and 15 minutes. But start checking at about an hour.
It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is a golden brown.
Remove the bread from the pan and let cool a little on a wire rack. You still want it to be hot when you brush on the glaze.
Glaze for Bishop’s Bread
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar
- ½ Tablespoon milk
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Mix the glaze. I mix it up in a teacup, there’s not much to it.
Brush the glaze on the top of the hot bread with a pastry brush.
Now, try to let it cool before you cut into it. 🙂
Its great warm or cold, with or without butter (but mostly with), and most definitely with a cup of tea!
If you double the recipe you can make 6 or 8 mini loaves. The minis make great homemade holiday gifts for neighbors and friends.
And I suspect it would make some way awesome French toast, but I’ve never had the chance to test that hypothesis. Maybe this year…
Frequently Asked Questions About Bishop’s Bread
Absolutely! Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in a zip top freezer bag. It stays good for about 5 months.
In a zip top baggie this will stay good for 3 to 5 days on the counter. If it goes a little stale, pop a slice in the toaster. It’s delicious!
Nope! It’s good without anything on it. It’s also good with the original powdered sugar icing. If you use that, don’t ice it if you are going to freeze it. Freezing makes the icing runny.
More dessert recipes you’ll love:
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup dried cherries or 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp milk
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter loaf pan and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Add the pecans and cherries and distribute evenly. Unless you’re using fresh or frozen cherries and you need to add them last.
- Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and combine well.
- Spoon batter into a buttered loaf pan and smooth the top.
- Bake at 325 F for an hour and 15 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is a golden brown.
- Remove from pan and let cool slightly before adding glaze.
- Mix the glaze. I mix it up in a teacup, there’s not much to it.
- Brush on the top of the hot bread with a pastry brush.