Sweet, juicy, warm, and gooey. Raisin bread! Don’t you just want to toast a big, fat slice of it right now, slather it with butter, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee to go with? Best of all, it’s a Grandmother Bread recipe.
But first….. I get a lot of questions about breadmaking. In the next few weeks, I’m going to be sneaking some simple secrets to great bread into my regular bread posts. A lot of these secrets aren’t secrets at all–but they’re things that aren’t always on the minds of new breadmakers. After all, when you’re just figuring out how to knead dough and other basics, some seemingly obvious side notes aren’t always so obvious. One of the most common questions I hear is, “How do you get such high loaves?”
Answer: Size matters.
(Get your mind out of the gutter!)
I’m talking about bread pans. I have a lot of bread pans.
Metal pans, glass pans, stoneware, big ones, little ones, miniature ones, I’ve got it all in a bread pan. Which is my favorite? Glass bread pans. I like the way bread bakes in a glass pan–the crust is just a bit crustier. I also like being able to look at the bread all over when I’m deciding if it’s done.
But not all glass bread pans are created equal.
Notice the pan in the middle is wider than the pans on either side. This inequity impacts the final product. See the bread rising higher in the narrower loaf pan here.
And of course, when it bakes up, the loaf in the narrower pan is higher.
As I said, this is a seemingly obvious secret, but if you only have one or two bread pans, nothing to compare them to, you might not have thought about it.
On a related note, even with a narrower pan, your bread might not turn out high and lovely if the recipe is too small. Some bread recipes aren’t crafted to create high loaves–they simply don’t turn out enough dough. If you’re already using narrow pans and have a bread recipe that isn’t making high loaves for you, consider increasing the recipe (and subsequent baking time) by a quarter or a third to build a bigger loaf.
My Grandmother Bread recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of water to start the dough (per loaf), which guarantees high loaves.
Oh–are you ready for the raisin bread? This is the one-loaf standard Grandmother Bread recipe with the addition of raisins and extra sugar for more sweetening.
How to make Raisin Bread:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
3 1/2 cups flour
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, raisins, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in flour with a heavy spoon until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, 30-60 minutes.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before shaping dough into a loaf. Place in a greased loaf pan and cover with greased wax paper or a wet paper towel. Let rise until loaf is tall and beautiful! (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)
Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven.
Note: I replaced one cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat in the bread pictured here. You can use straight all-purpose flour, part whole wheat as I did, or make it all whole wheat. (Use homemade dough enhancer if you’re making it with all whole wheat!)
Mmmmmm. Want some?
Variations: Make Any-Fruit Bread! Use one cup of chopped or diced fruit in place of raisins, such as peaches, berries, etc, or any one-cup combination of fruit.