As I sit here, it's almost a struggle for me to start of with this post. Not because I don't know what to write down but mostly because of the fact that a lot has been going on for me over the last months. A move abroad is something I've done before, but I keep underestimating how much time it actually takes to settle in, making your surroundings feel like home again and adjusting to a new country in general. But I'm getting there, and with Easter coming up, I just can't help but share this amazing raisin bread recipe with you lot!
When it comes to holidays like Easter, I always go back to memories of my childhood. Things that were so common for me, so recognizable to the holiday and well, raisin bread is definitely up there. Whenever that time of the year came around, I'd see bakeries and general stores fill their shelves with these delicious looking loaves of bread. Needless to say that years later when the baking monster within me had taken over, I had to try and replicate this fond food memory. So I did.
The recipe itself is fairly simple, it's the prep-work that will take up some time. The raisins, for example, need to soak. Whenever I bake this bread I soak the raisins overnight. You can decide how fancy you want to be. I personally just soak my raisins in water but if you want to give the raisins, and in turn the bread, a little more 'kick' you can also soak them in rum or apple juice. Personal preference is key when it comes to this step.
The next morning the raisins should have increased slightly in size as they've been swimming all night, taking in whatever liquid you've decided to use. All that is left to do at this point is taking some walnuts and chopping them finely. Once you've done, you've basically finished all the prep-work that needs to be done, and it's just a matter of making the dough.
One of the things I do have to point out is that this dough will turn very sticky. Not only because you're adding water with yeast but also because the raisins, as you knead the dough, will keep the dough sticky. Don't be alarmed if you have to keep adding spoons of flour, just to make the dough not stick to your work surface. The pictures above will give you a nice reference as to what the dough will eventually look like in between the stages and after it has risen.
Once the dough has risen for an hour the next thing you'll do is roll it out flat. About a thumb in thickness. At this point, I sprinkle the dough with cinnamon and finish the sprinkling process with a little bit of cardamom. Don't go overboard with the cardamom as a slight bit will already empower the taste of the cinnamon and at the same time, we don't want the cardamom to hijack the flavour of the bread.
The fun part is the moment where you start rolling the dough from one side to the other. Once rolled you tuck both ends of the dough underneath and start shaping the dough in the form you decided to bake the bread in. I use my Dutch Oven because it gives the bread such a magnificent shape once it's baked but a simple loaf tin will work fine as well.
As the bread bakes, it will once more grow in size. Depending on how dark you want the bread to be the baking time is right around the 25 to 35 minutes. The longer you bake, the darker the crust. After the bread is baked, take it out of the form as quick as you possibly can and let the bread 'breathe' on a cooling rack or anything really that allows the warmth to get out of the bread. If you leave it in the form it will retain all the moisture and get rather soggy.
Once the bread has cooled down sufficiently all that's left for you to do is take a nice bread knife and slice into it! This bread is perfect to serve while having breakfast or brunch and quite honestly it shouldn't even be bound to just Easter or Christmas for that matter. This is delicious all year round. Spread some nice vegan plant-based butter on it, maybe even use it as fancy sandwich bread and add some peanut butter or elderberry jelly.
Rustic Raisin Bread
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 300 ml water lukewarm
- 3 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 150 g raisins brown
- 75 g cranberries dried
- 75 g raisins golden
- 100 g walnuts chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Cardamom
- Stir the yeast into 300ml lukewarm water and let it rest for about 5minutes until it gets slightly foamy and bubbly on top.
- Mix 500 grams of flour, salt, chopped walnuts and the soaked raisins until evenly combined and all raisins are covered with flour.
- Create a well in the middle of the mixing bowl and add the water & yeast mixture to it.
- Gently mix it all with a spoon or spatula until it turns into a sticky dough.
- Prepare to add a lot of flour as the soaked raisins will add a lot of moisture to the dough. Knead the dough for about 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour to prevent it from sticking to everything.
- After kneading the dough for about 5 minutes, you should roll it into a ball shape and place it in the centre of the mixing bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and place the bowl in a warm spot. I place my dough close to a radiator. Let the dough rise for an hour.
- After the dough has risen for an hour, you can take the damp cloth off, and you'll notice a significant rise in volume.
- Dust your workspace generously with flour and knead the dough once more for about 5 minutes. Grab a rolling pin and roll out the dough, so it turns into a flat rectangle about as thick as a thumb. At this point, sprinkle the cinnamon and cardamom evenly over the dough.
- Take one end of the rectangular dough and now roll-up the dough. Fold the ends of the dough inwards and shape the dough, so it fits the form you have chosen. I use a Dutch-oven to bake the bread, but a baking form for loaves of bread works perfectly fine as well.
- Grease up your baking form with some coconut oil and shape the dough in a way that it fits your chosen baking form. Place the dough into the form and cover it once more with a damp cloth.
- Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C (450°F) and bake the bread anywhere between 25-35 minutes depending on how dark you want the bread to be.