In Newfoundland raisin bread is just as likely to be called "Sweet Bread" or "Lassy Bread" and everyone knows it contains raisins. Traditionally, raisin bread and a meal of salt fish are served on Christmas Eve. But raisin bread is also one of the mainstays at a church tea and bake sale, a kitchen party or a bedtime snack (a lunch, as we would say). It can be found squeezed in between the cookies and desserts at a wedding buffet or in a lunch box sandwiched together with butter. There's nothing better than sitting down with a slice of buttered raisin bread, a cut or two of cheese and a cup of tea or glass of milk. Raisin bread makes one great tasting grilled cheese sandwich and don't forget to toast this for a tasty breakfast treat.
Sweet bread can be found in any grocery store or bakery in Newfoundland but the best bread is homemade. There must be hundreds of recipes for raisin bread (maybe one for every baker) but I'm sure each family who bakes this bread, thinks their recipe is the best. The lovely aroma while this bread is baking makes home feel cozy and warm.
|Makes 6 large loaves.|
Start this bread early in the day as it a long process, waiting for the dough to rise. You could speed things up by doubling the yeast amount if you are in a hurry. Reserve Raisin Bread day for staying home, cleaning the house or maybe reading that book you've always wanted to start.
9 cups flour
½ package raisins (I used the full 250 gram package of raisins.)
½ teaspoon spice (cinnamon)
½ teaspoon cloves
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup molasses
Warm water as needed, about 2 ¾ cups
Melt butter. Put 8 cups flour, raisins, cloves, spices, sugar, yeast and salt into mixer bowl fitted with kneading attachment and mix well. Add melted butter, molasses and enough warm water to make a smooth dough, not sticky. Add more flour as needed. You may use just a little more than the 1 cup. Mix 10 minutes after dough leaves sides of bowl. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Grease top of dough and cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and put in a warm place to rise. (I turn on my oven to 350 degrees for 1 minute and then turn off. This gives a nice warm place to rise the dough.) When dough is doubled in size, punch down. This may take 2 hours or more. You may then form loaves or let rise again. A second rising will help develop the gluten better and even help with flavour. Grease 3 large or 4 medium bread pans and put 2 or 3 buns in a pan. Let rise until double. Bake 1 ½ hours at 250 degrees F.* The long slow baking ensures the bread will not burn. When baked, turn out on wire rack and brush tops with melted butter for a soft crust.
*I increased the oven temperature to 300 degrees as my oven is not hot. You know your oven, so adjust the oven temperature accordingly. I also decreased the baking time to 1 hour 15 minutes because I made smaller loaves.
Raisin bread dries out quickly because the raisins draw moisture from the bread. If you don't have a large family to eat this bread quickly, freeze the extra loaves and buns and leave out what you will eat in a couple of days.
|Dry ingredients mixed together.|
|This is the inside of the mixer. It's hard to see but the dough(on the extreme lower left) has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.|
|The dough has been kneaded for 10 minutes and is now in a greased bowl ready to rise.|
|Dough has doubled in size.|
|Punch down and form into loaves.|
|Ready to rise.|
|Rising loaves sitting near a sunny window.|
|Wrapped in a clean tea towel to keep rising dough warm.|
|In the oven.|
|Out of the oven, golden brown with a coating of butter.|
|First slice, hot and steamy.|
|This is not going to last long. Oh, so good!|