Traditions | Kay Trotter

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All Posts Tagged: Traditions

Christmas Raisin Bread

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.

My sister, Ann, who lives in St. Louis, also likes to use this bread to make a decadent Eggnog French Toast with eggnog from Oberweis Dairy, (which she says is the best she’s ever tasted).

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).


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*
4 eggs
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).

Yield: 2 loaves (1 pound each)

1 cup milk
4 tablespoons lard
1 egg
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.
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Family Traditions and Celebrations

We live in an age in which it is hard to spend time together as a family, not to mention some of us are divorced and single parents, some of us are remarried; and some of us remarried more than once, creating a rather confusing assemblage of members who aren’t entirely sure where on the family tree they belong.

Whatever our circumstance, many of us honestly don’t know how to celebrate together. To create family traditions and celebrations, traditions that lift days away from other days, give us something to look forward to and make a formal statement that “life is full of things to be grateful for” while also adding a sense of order and stability to our families and our lives.

What is a family tradition anyway?

The candy dish that is sitting on my kitchen counter today.

A tradition is something that you do once and it feels right; and so you do it again. It’s a ritual that “lives in your heart.” And it need not be big, or heavy or religious or difficult, it just needs to be YOU.  For example, a simple little tradition that I started as my daughter was growing up was, I placed a small candy dish on the corner of my kitchen counter filled with seasonal goodies year round. At the time I did not realize I was creating a family tradition “it just felt right.” Then one day my grown daughter came over and demanded that I put the candy dish back where it belonged. I had no idea that, to my daughter, this was a family tradition and she let me know that it needs to always continue. Today, since its Christmastime, I have a special holiday dish sitting on my counter filled with tasty white chocolate peppermints… yummy.

Sudekum Family Favorites Cookbook

An old-time Christmas family tradition that I continue is the baking of the Christmas Raisin Bread, using a recipe that has been in my family since at least 1800s—maybe even longer. It’s always baked at Christmas and given as gifts to family, friends and neighbors. My family traditionally serves this bread as toast on Christmas morning and then uses it for leftover turkey sandwiches. In fact, over the years, the turkey sandwich has evolved to include the use of Durkee’s Famous Sauce, lettuce, and, yes, cranberry sauce.

Since it is the holiday season, I am going to give you some ideas but remember: Every day is special and are a good place for everyday rituals, no-reason celebrations, and just plain fun.

Hay for Jesus’ bed (a Sudekum Family Tradition) During the Holiday season, my mom would take baby Jesus’ cradle from our nativity scene and put it in the center of the kitchen table. As each of us children did a random act of kindness, we could take one piece of straw (from new broom bristles) and put it into the cradle, making sure that by Christmas day the baby Jesus had a soft bed.

Break-through Christmas Morning (from Café Traditions) When I was a kid, my parents “wrapped” the doorway to the living room so we would have to break through the wrapping paper to get into the room and see the tree (It’s kind of like a high school homecoming game when the football players break through the big paper ring).

Homemade Christmas Gifts (a Sudekum Family Tradition) As children, we were encouraged to not buy gifts but to make them, thus giving each recipient a small piece of each of us. As I grew up, so did my gift-making competence. And all my gifts, from the simple baked goods to the elaborate 3-piece suit I once made, came from my heart and were nothing less than acts of love. My gift-making ranged from baked goods, homemade candles, monogrammed hand towels, macramé plant holders, rag dolls, sock puppets, etc. And, yes, even my brother cooked, sewed and embroidered gifts.

Proof That Santa Was Here (from Café Traditions) Every couple of years since my kids were very young, I leave a small piece of ripped red velvet fabric near the fireplace on Christmas morning. It proves Santa was there and he ripped his suit on his way down the chimney.

The Annual Christmas Lights Tour (from Café Traditions) Christmas lights. Ever since my daughter was very young, we’ve planned a Christmas Lights tour for one night in December. Everyone gets their pajamas on and then we head out to see the Christmas lights in our town. I pop a couple of bags of popcorn and pack a few snacks and we drive around until everyone gets sleepy. Then we come home, brush our teeth and head up to bed. It’s so much fun, and the pajamas and late night snacks make it an extra special treat for everyone.

My advice is to forget about any stereotype you may have and forge ahead with enthusiasm and get started creating some Family Traditions and Celebrations, while also giving your family stability and a sense of belonging. Above all, remember that the object here is to have fun as well as create something special and meaningful for the people you love.

Start your own Christmas Family Traditions and Celebrations

I would love to hear some of your Family Traditions and Celebrations, so please post them.

Merry Christmas Everyone

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page

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