Guernsey Gâche – a fruit bread loaf packed with plump sultanas and flavoured with nutmeg and orange peel.
This spiced fruit bread recipe delivers a delicious breakfast or afternoon treat. Serve with plenty of Guernsey butter and a pot of tea for a genuine taste of Guernsey.
Make the best fruit bread every time with my easy all in one enriched dough recipe for one large Guernsey Gâche. The enriched dough produces a soft and tender bread bursting with sultanas and orange peel.
Over the years I tweaked how I made Gâche before settling on my recipe. Initially I adapted recipes from The Guernsey Federation of Women’s Institute booklet (1962) and Guernsey Dishes of Bygone Days (1974). I’m also grateful for the information gleaned from proper ‘Guerns’ who all had their own take on Gâche.
Visitors to Guernsey are almost certain to have a slice or two of Gâche. Many visitors take some home with then as well, often as a gift. For me, returning from visit to Guernsey generally involves a stock of Guernsey butter to make Gâche and clotted cream.
Summers in Guernsey when our boys were young meant whole days with friends on the island’s wonderful beaches. A feature of the day was a ‘Beach Basket’ loaded with Gâche, teapot, cups and saucers from the beach kiosk. Sadly the “Beach Baskets” for afternoon tea are no more but Guernsey Gâche remains a traditional local favourite.
Yeasted sweet breads are a regular bake here at the Kitchen Shed. Throughout the year, they include Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns at Easter and my Tear and Share Iced Buns at Christmas. And I definitely don’t need any excuse to serve up a batch of my Belgian Buns. But when we want a fruit bread loaf it’s always a Guernsey Gâche.
What is Guernsey Gâche ?
Guernsey Gâche (pronounced “Gosh”) is a traditional fruit bread loaf. Full of fruit and plenty of Guernsey butter. You really can’t visit Guernsey without taking home a Guernsey Gâche.
Gâche means cake in Guernesiais although it isn’t actually a cake at all, the term deriving from a tradition of ‘yeast cakes’. Yeast cakes were a way of enriching an everyday bread dough with butter so it became something special and celebratory.
You’ll find a Gâche on Guernsey in tearooms, beach kiosks and outlets throughout the island. As far as I know, Senna’s remains the only local bakery making Gâche.
Passed down from generation to generation Gâche recipes can be traced back to the 18th century. And just like a Guernsey Bean Jar, Gâche recipes vary from family to family.
I’m pleased my recipe was featured in the Guernsey Press on 23 April 2022 in a piece by Erin Mansell:
‘I was happy with my first attempt at making Gâche. The inside was soft and sweet, with the currants complimenting the nutmegy flavour perfectly.’
What equipment do I need ?
- I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough. Simply add the ingredients and mix on a low speed. But don’t worry if you haven’t got a stand mixer. All you need is a bit of elbow grease and you can easily knead by hand.
- A 2lb (900g) loaf tin
What ingredients do I need ?
For ingredient quantities, scroll down to the recipe card.
- Bread flour – I use Marriage’s white bread flour for its high gluten content.
- Yeast – I prefer Dove’s Farm instant yeast (often called fast action yeast or quick yeast) because it’s easy to use.
- Sugar – only three tablespoons in the dough as there is plenty of sweetness in the sultanas, marmalade and sticky glaze.
- Nutmeg – grated from a whole nutmeg gives a fuller fresher flavour than a jar of ready ground spice.
- Salt – I used sea salt.
- Butter – Guernsey unsalted butter is best if you can get hold of it. Guernsey butter is a deep golden colour which comes out in the finished loaf. Alternatively use a good quality butter, it will still deliver a great fruit bread.
- Milk – essential for delivering a lovely soft bread.
- Candied peel – alternatively, use chopped marmalade.
- Dried fruit – I used sultanas or you could use dried mixed fruit.
How to make Guernsey Gâche – Fruit Bread Loaf
Guernsey Gâche is much easier to make than you might think. If you have a stand mixer, it’s even easier – I use my Kitchen Aid.
- First, warm the milk in the microwave for a minute so the liquid temperature is tepid to warm. At this temperature the yeast is encouraged to start working – too high a temperature will kill the yeast.
- Add your dough ingredients, except the sultanas, to the mixer bowl of a free standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Knead on a low setting for about 2 minutes.
- Add the sultanas and continue on a low setting until your dough is smooth and elastic.
- Mixing by hand in a bowl – stir the dough ingredients, except the sultanas, together until they form a ball. Then knead for about 4 minutes. Start adding the sultanas into the dough a little at a time as you continue kneading until smooth and elastic.
- Leave your dough to rise, in a warm place without any draughts, until it has almost doubled in size. This should take about 1½ hours.
- Shape the dough into a rectangle, the width of you dough rectangle should be the length of your tin.
- Roll up the dough and fold under the ends. Seal the long seam using your fingers. Place the dough, seam side down, in your lined 2 lb loaf tin.
- Cover with greased clingfilm / plastic wrap or tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
- Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, lowering the temperature after 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cover with foil at the halfway point if your loaf is browning too quickly.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to fully cool.
- Enjoy a slice of Guernsey Gâche spread with plenty of butter, ideally Guernsey butter if possible.
- Serve with a cup of tea or coffee.
How long does it keep ?
Fresh is definitely best. Having said that, Guernsey Gâche will keep for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.
Can I freeze Guernsey Gâche – Fruit Bread Loaf ?
Yes, you can ! Gâche freezes really well.
Individually open freeze slices on a tray and then transfer to a food safe freezer bag or sealed container. Or simply freeze as a whole fruit bread loaf.
Once frozen, Gâche will keep for up to three months.
More Fruited Bread Recipes
Pin for later:
Guernsey Gâche – a Fruit Bread Loaf
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 175 g butter – preferably Guernsey Butter
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- A good pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast I used Doves Farm
- 300 ml milk or water warmed I used milk
- 350 g sultanas
- 75 g mixed peel
If mixing and kneading your dough by hand:
- Combine all the dough ingredients except for the dried fruit in a large bowl, stirring them together until they form a ball.
- Knead by hand for 10 to 12 minutes before adding the fruit a little at a time until it is incorporated evenly into the dough.
If mixing and kneading your dough using a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook:
- Add all the dough ingredients except for the fruit into your mixer bowl.
- Mix on slow speed number 1 for approximately 1 to 2 minutes then on speed number 2 for 8 to 10 minutes. Your dough should be lovely and smooth and elastic.
- On slow speed add the sultanas and mixed peel a little at a time until incorporated into the dough.
Rest your dough:
- Place the dough in a greased large bowl and cover with cling film/plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours.
- Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin/pan and preheat your oven to 400°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knead lightly into a loaf shape and place into the tin.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size – this should take approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.
- Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, after 30 minutes lower the temperature to 200°C for the remaining 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to fully cool. When you tap the base of the loaf with your fingers, it should sound hollow.
- Enjoy spread with butter, Guernsey butter if you can.
I’m entering into a couple of challenges this month:
- The Teatime Treats Challenge hosted by Karen over at Lavender & Lovage and Janie at The Hedgecombers, hosted this month by Janie.
- Charlotte’s Food Year Link Up Challenge over at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.