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Mother’s Raisin Bread

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This was a raisin bread that my mother made very often, modeled on one she had admired at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. During World War I she used to do benefit teas for the British Red Cross, and there were always requests for this bread, thinly sliced and spread with good sweet butter. It was arranged on large platters, and there was never any of it left.

2 loaves

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish, snack

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealtea

Moodadventurous, blue

Taste and Texturechewy, fruity, sweet

Type of Dishyeast bread

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • Melted butter
  • ½ cups sultana raisins, plumped overnight in sherry or Cognac to barely cover
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange rind
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 tablespoons cream

Instructions

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of the warm milk and proof it. Combine the rest of the warm milk, sugar, salt, and 3 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, then, using one hand or a heavy wooden spoon, gradually stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth, elastic, and glossy. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover and set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2½ hours.

Punch the dough down and knead for 3 minutes. Return to the bowl and let rise again for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each out into a rectangle about 7× 20 inches. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the raisin mixture. Roll the dough up tightly; tuck the ends under. Fit each roll, seam side down, in two well-buttered 8×4×2-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm spot till the dough shows just above the top of the pans. Brush with the egg yolk-and-cream wash and bake in a preheated 400° oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and bottom. If necessary, return the loaves to the oven rack without their pans to brown the bottom crusts.

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