This is a family traditional recipe that just the smell of this bread baking stirs more memories than my mind can handle. Great memories of sitting in the picture window of 34 Graystone Lane, Levittown, Pennsylvania with my Nana slicing raisin bread to eat with our hot tea. There are also the memories of my mother’s kitchen with her Mother-In-Law supervising the kneading and baking process of the bread. These two women were extreme influences of who I am today because of the love they showed me. (If it weren’t for that great love they’d killed me long ago!) The Raisin Bread recipe was ALWAYS used at this time of the year – Christmas. We didn’t leave milk and cookies for Santa when I was growing up. We left him Raisin Bread and Egg Nog!
The aroma of Raisin Bread baking in the house will cause a man to gnaw his arm off if it were keeping him from the bread. This bread is an ALL DAY work of love, maybe which is why it tastes so wonderful!
5lb bag all purpose flour
½ lb light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tsp allspice
1 heaping tsp ground cloves
½ cup of molasses
½ cup of milk
½ cup of milk
2 Tbs instant coffee
3 packs dry yeast (rapid rise)
1 ½ lbs raisins
4 cups of potato water (water from boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes)
1 cup of Crisco shortening
1. Soak raisins in a large bowl with hot tap water for 30 minutes then drain.
2. In a small bowl put yeast 2 Tbs of sugar and 1 ½ cup of water (check yeast instructions for water temp - usually 120-130)
3. In large bowl pour half of the flour, and other dry ingredients making a hole in the middle of the flour.
4. Add 2 ½ cups water, eggs, shortening and yeast mixture to the hole and let stand until little bubbles start forming. (mine took about 20 minutes)
5. Add flour and raisins a little at a time. Knead until it won’t stick to fingers and forms into a ball which is springy to touch.
6. Cover bowl and keep warm until doubles in size (about 2 ½ hours)
7. Cut into separate loaf sizes, then roll into loaves and place into greased and floured pans.
8. Cover and let rise to double in size again.
9. Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Remove from pans and spread tops with Crisco or Margarine.
** After I made this batch I was putting the recipe back in my grandmother's recipe box. I was looking through the box of recipes (slips of paper, index cards, magazine clippings, on is actually written on a grocery store recipt and another on a church bulletin!) and I found on a slip of note pad paper a list of ingredients and at the top was written RAISIN BREAD. It only had the ingredients listed as is customary for my Nana. She knew what to do with the ingredients once she had them! You see the other recipe that I used was compiled from my mother and my aunt from trying to watch and make Nana's bread over the years. The differences in the two recipes are: 1/2 cup of molasses, 1/2 cup of milk, POTATO water, 3 eggs instead of 2, and a cup of granulated sugar. Using these requires having a little extra flour to use to make the kneading process, but that is probably why my Nana always had a huge tub of flour on her bread table...
* Note - this batch did not turn out with quite the same texture as hers, (didn't rise enough) but it sure tastes like hers!