Friday, November 23, 2012


In addition to being just plain National Bread Month, November is, so they say, also National Raisin Bread Month. ‘They’ are several references on Google, but none tell me who, or what entity, originated this celebration. Despite all that, the topic makes for a tasty bit of research: on raisins, which have been around since man first gave a try to some dried-up grapes left on a vine; and on cinnamon, which comes in many varieties, and about which folks can get absolutely snooty with their preferences; and on the many and varied recipes and methods for making said raisin bread.  Other than my own recipe, which I think is a good one, my favorite variation on raisin bread is Yule Kake, the Norwegian Christmas bread, where cardamom is exchanged for the cinnamon. I’ve got some dandy ‘extras’ in my recipe, but my husband’s Grandmother’s recipe is absolutely decadent. I use water and vegetable oil - her recipe uses milk and butter. Oh, the calories!! 
The aroma of baking or toasting raisin bread is one of life’s little pleasures.
I’ve developed this raisin bread recipe over the last few years. Don’t be intimidated by the yeast - even if this bread falls it will be delicious. Toasted or not, spread with warm butter or cold, or maybe cream cheese - well, that’s that! I’m off to have some myself. Meanwhile, here’s my recipe:
Note that this is a heavy bread - your loaves will weigh almost two pounds each.  To facilitate the rising, I use a tablespoon of yeast - more than is in one packet.  You might want to empty several packets into a small container, measure out the tablespoon you need, and refrigerate or freeze the rest to be used later.
The recipe is based on the use of a KitchenAid or other similar, heavy duty mixer.
Bread Ingredients:                      Filling Ingredients
1½ cups raisins in                       ½ cup white sugar                          
1¼ cups of water                        ½ cup brown sugar          
1 cup of water                            1½ tsp. cinnamon      
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil                   1 cup coarsely chopped pecans   
2 Tbsp. honey            
2 Tbsp. molasses             
1 Tbsp. salt                   
2 tsp. ground cinnamon       
3½ + cups white flour        
2½ cups whole wheat flour   
Place the raisins in a microwavable bowl, Cover with water, cook on high for 90 seconds. Drain the raisins, reserve the liquid to go into the bread.

Pour one cup of the hot raisin water, along with this second cup into your mixing bowl.                
Sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Add the oil, honey, molasses, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk this all together.  Add the raisins.

Add the flours to the mixer and begin mixing on low.  You can increase the machine speed when the flours start to mix in, otherwise the flour will get flung around. 


Depending on how the dough reacts, you may have to add more white flour, a tablespoon or so at a time, if the dough is too sticky. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and lump up on the dough hook.
         Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand for a little while.    Form the dough into a flattened ball on a floured counter.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients: sugars, cinnamon and nuts. 

Also at this time, grease or spray two 8½ x 4½ x 2¾ bread pans. 

Cut the dough in half.  You might want to use a kitchen scale to be sure the weights are even.  

Roll out each half into a rectangle about 8” x 10”.  Sprinkle evenly with the filling mixture.  Starting with a short side, roll up the dough into a log. 

Place the loaf into a prepared pan, being sure that the seam is face down in the pan.  Repeat this for the other loaf.   Place the loaves in a slightly warmed oven - no more than 100° - and let them rise in the oven until doubled and a half. This may take an hour or more.  

Once the dough has risen, remove the loaves from the oven and place them on top of the stove, near the heat of the oven outlet. 

Heat the oven to 450º. When the oven is up to temperature, put the loaves in side by side - maybe three inches between - and time them for 10 minutes.  At the 10 min. mark, turn down the oven to 350º and time the loaves for 30 minutes. 

Remove the loaves from the oven and, immediately, from the pans on to a cooling rack.  As seen above, you may have some ‘syrup’ ooze out of the loaf until the loaves cool a bit.  Do not slice the bread until it is completely cool.  Slicing too soon will make for harder cutting, and gumminess where the knife has pushed through instead of slicing cleanly.  This bread freezes very well.

Frank, my handy-dandy bread slicer, likes his raisin bread toasted. Me, I'll take it any way I can get it - but always with lots of butter.



No comments:

Post a Comment