Bulbul's Raisin Bread

Bulbul's Kitchen

This recipe is for 2 small flattish loaves of a whole wheat raisin bread with hints of cardamom, orange, and ginger. This is a modification of a simple challah recipe, for which i will be eternally indebted to Ari. Here's what it looks like:

raisin bread photo
Ingredients:
  • 1 package dry active yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 cup moderately hot water (100°F-110°F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup mild olive oil (or maybe try canola oil)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ¼ to ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • seeds from about 4-6 green cardamom pods, ground in a mortar with a pestel (Pre-ground cardomum usually doesn't have the pungent flavour that the seeds out of green whole pods has.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (A big pinch, in other words. I grate it fresh and don't really measure.)
  • 1 teaspoon (or less) grated orange rind (Grate it fresh, then eat the orange. It's good for you.)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons honey mixed with 2 tablespoons water for glazing

Method:
  1. Let's first get the yeast going. Put the tablespoon of sugar in the water into a glass. (Use a meat thermometer to make sure the water temperature is right: 100°F-110°F.) Add the yeast, stir, and let stand. A foam about one quarter the height of the water will form over the next ten minutes. Be sure you do this in a glass large enough to allow room for the foam. After the initial excitement of watching the yeast be active, set it aside and go to the next step.
  2. Now let's reconstitute the raisins so they're plump and juicy. In a small bowl, pour some boiling water over them and let them sit until we need them.
  3. Now we make the spice mixture. Put the brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the spices and work it into the brown sugar. (Doing it this way makes sure the spices are evenly distributed, especially the fresh orange rind, which would otherwise get all clumped together.)
  4. In a food processor or a heavy-duty mixer with kneading attachment, put the flour, salt, oil,  egg, and brown sugar and spice mixture. If it's been at least 10 minutes since you started the yeast, pour that in, too. If not, you need to wait.
  5. Drain the raisins and pour them in with the other ingredients.
  6. Turn on your food processor or mixer. The dough is good when it cleanly pulls away from the sides of the processor or bowl. It should form a ball.
  7. Put the ball of dough into a large greased bowl, cover with a little plastic wrap, and put a towel on it. Let it rise for about 2 hours in a nice warm place (like your oven). This will give you lots of time to clean up the mess you've made.
  8. Lightly grease a baking sheet or a loaf pan.
  9. After the dough has been left to rise for 2 hours, shape it into two balls and place it on the baking sheet, or just place the entire quantity into a loaf pan.
  10. Put the dough back into the oven (or other warm place) to rise for ½ hour longer.
  11. If you're going to glaze the bread, do it now with the honey and water mixture.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350°F oven. Bake until it sounds hollow when you tap it, but don't overbake. Check it after about 20 minutes. It might be delicious already!
  13. Let cool a bit before devouring. Making two small loaves rather than one big one encourages you to give one to your neighbour. (Which is what baking's all about, right?) Serve with butter, where not prohibited by law.
This page was last modified on December 8, 2004.