You can make the raisin pain au lait and honey quince several days in advance. You can also use a shop-bought fruit loaf if you don't want to make your own - just make sure it's got a bit of body to it.
- 4 eggs
- 100 ml milk
- 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- To serve: crème fraîche
- 320 gm honey
- 220 gm caster sugar (1 cup)
- Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 4 quince, cored, quartered (peel and trimmings reserved)
- 280 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg
- Finely grated rind of 1 orange
- 120 ml lukewarm milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 60 gm softened butter, plus extra for greasing
- 70 gm raisins
- 20 gm candied orange peel, finely chopped
- 1For honey quince, preheat oven to 120C. Combine all ingredients (except quince, peel and trimmings) and 750ml water in a large saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add quince, peel and trimmings, cover closely with baking paper, weight with a plate, cover with foil and cook until quince is tender and pale pink (2½-3 hours). Remove quince with a slotted spoon, set aside, then strain liquid into a clean saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half (25-30 minutes). Pour syrup over quince and set aside.
- 2For raisin pain au lait, process flour, honey, yeast, spices and orange rind in a food processor to combine. Add milk and eggs, pulse to combine, then add butter and process until a soft dough forms. Transfer to a buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1-1½ hours). Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knock back, then knead in raisins and candied orange peel, shape into a cylinder and place in a buttered 7cm x 29cm loaf tin (see note). Cover with plastic wrap, stand until dough rises to just below rim (45 minutes-1 hour). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Bake bread in oven, weighted with an oven tray topped with a cast-iron pan (see note), until golden and cooked through (30-40 minutes). Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Raisin pain au lait will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 5 days.
- 3Reduce oven to 150C. Whisk eggs and milk to combine, then transfer to a shallow tray. Cut raisin pain au lait into six 3cm-thick slices, stand in egg mixture, turning once, until soaked (2 minutes each side), then drain.
- 4Heat half the butter in a large frying pan, add three slices of raisin pain au lait and cook, turning once, until golden (1-2 minutes each side). Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper, keep warm in oven. Wipe pan with absorbent paper, repeat with remaining butter and raisin pain au lait. Serve hot with honey quince and syrup and crème fraîche.
Note If you don't have a loaf tin of this size, roll dough into a cylinder about 25cm long, place on an oven tray lined with baking paper, brush with eggwash, stand until risen, then bake until dark golden (20-25 minutes). Weighting the loaf with an oven tray, topped with a cast-iron pan, helps it to keep a perfectly square shape while baking, but it's not absolutely necessary to do this.