Wow! I loved making this! So many of my preferences for food are centred around my memories as a kid. My grandma used to look after my brother and I when we were little – a few days a week after school when mom was at work. Our standard after school snacks were chocolate chip cookies she made, or raisin bread from the local bakery (slathered in butter – I know, how bad for you!). I loved, loved, loved the raisin bread. It was so soft, light and sweet!
Yesterday, I was looking through cookbooks at our local bookstore, and came across a “hurt” version of Baking from My Home to Yours – by Dorrie Greenspan (yes, the Dorrie of the Tuesdays with Dorrie baking group). I have been waiting to pick this up for a while now, and just felt too guilty dropping $50 on a cookbook when I had so many already – but at over 50% off for a book that had a little hole in the jacket, I couldn’t not pick it up! As I mentioned in my Whole Wheat Bread post, I am trying to learn and appreciate working with yeast. So the first recipe I tried from Dorrie’s book was Raisin Swirl Bread.
As the dough was rising, the sweet aroma wafted through the house. As it baked I took the dog for a super quick pee break and came back into the house welcomed by that fresh bread waft…so lovely. And isn’t it so pretty?! So this is dedicated to my grandma – whom I don’t see very often, but love a lot.
For the bread
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just warm to the touch whole milk
1/2 stick (or 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter – room temp
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (I cheated and used pre-ground)
3 3/4 to 4 cups AP flour
For the swirl
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (this was optional, but we did it)
1 cup moist – plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter – softened
- Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup warm milk. Let rest 3 minutes, then sitr – the yeast may not have dissolved completely, and it may not be bubbling, but it should be soft.From here, Dorrie uses an electric stand mixer- in the world’s smallest kitchen, we don’t have space for that… so out comes the wooden spoon!
- Combine the remaining milk, butter and 1/4 cup sugar and mix with a hand held mixer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg and mix for one minute – at this point the mixture can look pretty “curdy”
- Ass the yeast mixture and beat on medium low for 1 more minute.
- Add 2 3/4 cups flour and on low speed mix until it just comes together – this is now when I switched to the wooden spoon. (or you could switch to a dough hook)
- Add another 1 cup of flour – beat it with the wooden spoon until it comes together and is almost clean of the sides of the bowl. (Ass up to 1/4 cup more AP flour, 1 Tbsp at a time)
- Dorrie says the dough can’t really be kneaded by hand – it would be too soft… I didn’t find this. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen.
- Boil a kettle of water – create a water bath in the oven.
- Butter a large bowl – turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place the dough in the oven (turned off) with the water bath below. Let dough rise until is about double in size 1 1/2 hours approx.
- Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly. Place in freezer for 30 minutes – or long enough to firm up to be rolled easily. (At this point you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient (I wish I had done this – in all this is a long process, and to eat it fresh in the morning, this would have aided the process!)
- Make the swirl: combine sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl.
- Butter a 9×5 loaf pan.Dorrie suggests checking to make sure your raisins are nice and plump/moist – I had never really thought about this before…she suggested that if they are a little hard, to steam them. I did this in our steamer, and then patted them dry – the result was what tasted like fresh (if you can have fresh) raisins – brilliant!
- Place dough on a large, lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle about 12×18.
- Gently smear 2 Tbsp of the butter on the rectangle – use your fingers!
- Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and scatter the raisins.
- Starting at the short side of the dough, roll it up jelly-roll fashion – make sure to roll it snugly.
- Fit the dough int the buttered pan, seam side down and with the ends tucked under the loaf.
- Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in warm place. Let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan – about 45 minutes. I placed back in the oven until I was ready to preheat and then I moved it to the microwave – no drafts that way!
- When the dough has almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F – place rack at centre in oven.
- Melt remaining butter, brush exterior of loaf with it.
- Put the bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a sil-pad. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes, or so. The bread should be a lovely golden colour and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
- Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes – then unmold. Allow to cool to room temperature – and then ENJOY!
Delicious plain and simple, or toasted with a little butter – OR as Dorrie suggests make french toast – how wonderfully decadant!