Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sarine's Annual Christmas Treat!

Ok, so we have failed at being attentive bloggers this year! Lots of things have happened...babies were born; trips were taken to see these babies and work happened! We'll post more about all of those but the important stuff right now involves a recipe for our near-famous raisin bread that we've been making at holiday time for 35 years.
It all began one year when the government was raising the cost of stamp from 10 to 13 cents and I refused to put a 13-cent stamp on an envelope that was being delivered to our friends in our neighborhood in NY. So I had the brilliant idea that it would be cool to deliver the Christmas cards with a freshy-baked loaf of cinammon raisin bread.

That first year we might have made 15 loaves. The next year we (I) had to make more so that Dick could take some to his co-workers. The number increased every year! A couple of years later Dick took over the task and has continued to make his his (our) infamous bread every December. When we moved to North Carolina in 1992 we packaged and mailed bread back up to our NY family & neighbors that first year. After that they were sent the recipe...which we are happy to share with you below, as we are never quite sure what the loaves look or taste like after traveling that far!

Yesterday, Dick had to meet a young couple expecting their first baby to deliver one of the confortable club chairs/baby gliders that we sell. The first batch of raisin bread had just come out of the oven and he took a loaf to the office to give them when they picked up their chair. He got this email this morning: "The bread was DELICIOUS! We just had it warm with some butter and apples! Perfect for a cold morning. My husband said- we can always buy another chair but this bread is priceless! Thank you so much."

So here it is...Happy's a great family tradition!



5 cups water
1 stick butter
¾ cups honey
3 pkgs Fleischmann dry yeast
5 lbs flour
1 large box raisins
5 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
Mixture of cinnamon & sugar – approx. 2 cups

1. Bring to a boil the water, honey, butter and salt. Pour into a very large bowl (you will be using this bowl to knead the bread) Let cool to approx. 110 degrees (could take 20-30 minutes at room temp) if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast!
2. Add yeast to the bowl and stir briskly with a whisk until dissolved. Wait for the yeast to “explode” – bubbles up – 1 to 10 minutes depending upon temp of water
3. Add three eggs and beat with a whisk again
4. Pour in a large box of raisins and mix well
5. Sift about 1/3 of the flour into the bowl and mix well with a whisk.

6. Gradually sift the rest of the flour into the “brew”, switch to using a large spoon until it is too thick and then start kneading the mixture with your hands….Dough will be liquidly at first but will gradually become firm – you may want to grease your hands with a little shortening or butter to avoid the mixture sticking to your hands.
7. Keep kneading and folding the dough until the mixture is the same consistency throughout – usually at least 15 minutes (very good exercise) I usually put the bowl on the floor on a towel…easier on the back and you can apply more pressure.
8. Pour the mixture out of the bowl, clean the bowl, and spray with non-stick spray and then return to the bowl.
9. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let stand for about 1 hour or until the mixture rises above the edge of the bowl. Again, depending upon room temp, this time can vary quite a bit.
10. While waiting, prepare 6-7 bread pans with liberal amounts of Pam or similar spray.
11. After the dough has risen, punch the dough down and knead again for about 5-10 minutes
12. Roll the dough into a log shape on a floured surface. Cut dough into 6-7 equal pieces (depends upon the number and size of the loaf pans you have)
13. Take each of the section and (one at a time) roll out like a pizza to 1/8 to ¼ inch thickness.
14. Take about 3-5 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar and spread evenly on the rolled dough (Do not spread the cinnamon/sugar mixture all the way to the edges of the dough as it will prevent the dough from sticking together in the next step).
15. Roll the dough into loaf and pinch and fold in the ends to help stop sugar from coming out during baking
16. Put each loaf into a pan, cover all pans with a damp dish towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes (it should rise at least an inch or two)
17. Put into pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top (you can tell when the bread is done by tapping on the top and it sounds a little hollow)
18. Take bread out of the pan and place on a cooling rack & brush melted butter on the top of the loaf (makes the crust soft)

19. You can freeze the bread or eat all the loaves at one sitting…it makes great toast and I’ve heard that it also makes great French toast. Happy eating!!!!