After I posted my “Family Traditions and Celebrations” blog my sister, Ann, who is a personal chef, posted our family’s “Christmas Raisin Bread” recipe on her blog Ann’s Custom Cuisine and I wanted to pass it along to all of you.
My family has a recipe for Christmas Raisin Bread that has been in our family since the 1800s – maybe even longer. My mom learned it from her Irish grandmother, my great grandmother, and it is always baked at Christmastime and given as gifts to family, friends and neighbors as well as our mailman, milkman, hair stylists and others. As we were growing up, my mom also made it for all of our teachers, which means, with four children in my family, she was baking a lot of bread!
The smell of this bread baking always brings a smile to my face and fills me with lots of happy memories of childhood.
My family traditionally serves this bread as toast on Christmas morning (the brunch menu also includes sliced & sugared navel oranges and some of us like to dip the toast in the orange juice that is left on our plates!). We also use this bread for leftover turkey sandwiches slathered with lots of tangy Durkee’s Famous Sauce plus crisp lettuce and tart cranberry sauce.
While we all know how to make this bread, my mom is the official baker of the Christmas Raisin Bread. And, as her hands have lost their strength over the years, she developed a way to make the bread in a bread machine (although, she only lets the machine go as far as the dough cycle and then she takes it out to form loaves and bake in individual bread pans).
CHRISTMAS RAISIN BREAD
Source: Sudekum Family Favorites Cookbook
Yield: 6 loaves (1 pound each)
4 cup milk
1/2 pound lard
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons salt
4 packages yeast*
5 pounds flour
1 1/2 cups raisin
* Do not use “quick-rising” or “instant” yeast
- Heat milk in a saucepan until scalding (180° F).
- Place lard, sugar and salt in a large bowl and add scalding milk. Let cool to around 100-120° F.
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2-cup warm water and add to milk mixture. Add eggs, half of the flour and raisins. Beat the dough hard with a spoon and then add the rest of the flour. Mix well and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for 10 minutes and place in a large, clean, greased bowl.
- Cover bowl with a damp towel and let dough rise for 2 hours. (NOTE: the yeast needs to stay warm while the dough is rising, so be sure to place the dough in a warm part of your kitchen.)
- After the first rise, punch dough down and let rise again for 1 hour.
- Cut dough into 6 sections. Cover sections with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Shape dough into loaves, place loaves in greased loaf pans, cover with a damp towel and let rise again.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned.
How to Shape Dough Into Loaves
Roll dough into a 12×8-inch rectangle. Starting from the narrow edge, roll up tightly. At each turn, seal with fingertips or edge of hand. Press down on ends of loaf with sides of hand to make two, thin, sealed strips. Fold strips under loaf (or shape dough into a rectangular loaf, pulling ends together until smooth).
CHRISTMAS RAISIN BREAD FOR THE BREAD MACHINE
Yield: 2 loaves (1 pound each)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons lard
4 cups flour
1/3 plus 1/8 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cup raisins
- Place all ingredients, except raisins, in the dough bucket of the bread machine.
- Run the dough cycle.
- When the dough cycle reaches 1:19 (1 hour, 19 minutes), add the raisins and let the dough cycle continue.
- When the dough cycle finishes, remove the dough from the bucket and divide into two sections.
- Let dough rest for 10 minutes and shape into loaves.
- Place loaves in greased loaf pans, cover with a damp towel and let rise for 1-2 hours.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.