After fiddling around with my raisin bun recipe, and a small, fortuitous accident with yeast, I have at last found a combination that makes perfect raisin bread. Tall, soft, sticky on top. For my buns I use candied citrus peel, but not here - and I also added powdered ginger to this recipe.
If you'd rather have buns, of course, just break off bun shapes after the second rising and and arrange them on a baking sheet, about an inch apart, or perhaps even in small foil trays, which will contain the rising buns nicely in sets of six or so. This recipe would make about 12 buns.
- Warm the milk. Remove the milk from heat and cool till tepid. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast. Add the sugar and yeast and whisk. Allow to prove a little (it bubbles and foams).
4 oz whole-wheat flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp ground clove
3 ½ oz butter
2 oz sugar (about 3 tablespoons, if this is getting tricky)
½ tsp salt
2 eggs whisked
7 oz raisins or currants or a mixture of both
- Put flours and the spices in a large bowl. Grate the butter over the flour. Gently push your fingers into the flour, palms up, beneath the butter and draw the butter into the flour, rubbing softly. Rub until the flour resembles very coarse sand. Add the sugar and salt and mix gently.
- Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in the whisked eggs. Into the eggs pour the milk mixture.
- With a wooden spoon, stir the liquid into the flour, moving in circles, until all the flour has been drawn in. Abandon the spoon and knead the dough once or twice with your hand to form a cohesive ball. It will be a little damp. Turn out onto a floured board and start to knead seriously, dusting the board with a little more flour if the dough sticks. Knead for ten minutes. There's no skimping, here: Give the dough a quarter turn, fold the back over towards yourself, knead, give it a quarter turn, fold the back over towards you, knead, and repeat for ten minutes until it becomes smooth and silky and very pliable.
- Clean your bowl very well, grease with butter and lay the kneaded dough ball in it. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take 1 - 3 hours, depending on various mysteries of temperature. Check on the rising dough every now and then.
- Once it has doubled, punch it back down again - which really means just pushing it back into a smaller shape with your hands - and lay it back on your board. Sprinkle about a quarter of the raisins onto the dough, press them into the surface and then knead it once or twice until the raisins have disappeared.
- Repeat until all the raisins are incorporated. The last addition will cause some of them to pop straight out again out but press them back in or ignore them. Escapees are inevitable. Form the dough into a rough log shape.
- Butter a baking pan. Don't use Pyrex. Trust me. I use a 10. 5 inch x 5.25 inch pan. Lower the dough gently into the pan. Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise, doubling in size again. It should reach the top of the pan and fill in the open spaces at the ends.
- Heat the oven to 375'F/190'C.
2 Tbsp milk
- Whisk egg and milk. Brush the surface of the loaf with the egg wash.
- Slide into the hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Tip the bread from the pan and tap. It should sound hollow. Hollow is good. Immediately, while it is still too hot to hold, brush the surface with this sugar glaze.
1 Tbsp water
- Don't worry if there are still sugar crystals, they tend to melt on contact. If you are very detail-oriented, heat the water and sugar first and stir to dissolve the sugar, then apply.
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