Monday, June 13, 2011
I have written about Bernie's Bakery before. Somehow, when all is said and done, I keep coming back. And usually, it's at this time of year. When winter is finally over, and the weather stabilizes into summer warmth, I like to bake things that are a little decadent. Not fattening mind you. But definitely designed for your comfort zone. So that brings me to this post - old-fashioned raisin bread. I remember the raisin bread from Bernie's we would eat on Sunday's still warm from the oven. The bakery was right around the corner, after all. Still, this was a concession of sorts to New World sensibilities, by someone who was very decidedly Old World. Raisin bread is North American. Especially soft, white raisin bread like this one. This bread is wonderful still slightly warn (but wait to slice it so it can 'rest'). It is even better toasted with butter melted all over. Or strawberry jam. This is my modern adaptation of a very old-fashioned bread. With dollops of nostalgia thrown in for good measure!
Here's What You'll Need:
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 Tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 large egg
about 3 cups AP flour
3/4 cup raisins, plumped in hot water then drained
for the glaze:
1/2 Tablespoon molasses
1 Tablespoon hot water
Here' What You'll Need To Do:
1. Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Mix to dissolve then set aside for about 10 minutes until nice and foamy.
2. In the meantime, mix the flour with the rest of the sugar, the salt and the yeast mixture. Add the butter and water and mix to form a rough dough. Knead (either by hand on a lightly-floured surface, or with an electric mixer) for about 5 minutes, until smooth and soft. The dough should be slightly tacky, but not stick to the tabletop.
3. Mix in the raisins only at the end so they don't get overly mangled by the mixer. Then place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
4. Deflate the dough then roll into a loaf shape and place in a lightly-oiled loaf pan (9 by 5 inches or 23 by13 cm) and cover with a damp kitchen cloth to rise again. It is probably a good idea to slash the bread at this stage so it doesn't 'explode' while baking. This time it will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Depends on the heat in your kitchen.
5. About 20 minutes before baking time, heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Brush the loaf with the molasses diluted in hot water,
then bake for about 30 minuted until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If you like, you could give the bread an additional brush with molasses halfway through the baking.
6. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.