Raisin Bread (Ideal for Little Ones)
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Raisins are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Like currants and sultanas, they are essentially dried grapes. And that's where 'simply put' ends.
A raisin is a grape that has been dried for about three weeks. As it dries, it changes to the dark colour it bears, developing a soft texture and a sweet taste.
A sultana are green seedless grapes coated in an oil to speed up the drying process and lighter in colour than a raisin. In Australia, they are darker, mainly because the oil coating is missing and the time it takes to dry them is extended. In the US, they are often referred to as 'golden raisins'.
Currants start life as much smaller grapes. They are often referred to as 'Zante' currants and are predominately made from Black Corinth grapes. They are often dried for about three weeks.
Today, I'm baking Raisin Bread. My grandchildren are visiting soon and I want to present them with a 'mini loaf' full of goodness and natural ingredients. I'll make a larger bake than I need so that you can see how small the loaves are compared to a usual 1lb loaf.
It's light, fluffy and perfect as bread and butter, toast or, as my favourite, buttered and served with a strong Cheddar cheese.
500 gms strong white bread flour
350 mls of lukewarm water
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
10 gms crushed sea salt
20 gms unsalted butter (softened)
180 gms raisins
7 gms instant yeast
As this is child-friendly raisin bread, you'll notice that I've cut out the spices. If you wanted to add those for a more discerning palate, then you could add:
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
You could also substitute the water for weak Earl Grey tea.
I'm going to make two bakes. One will be without the tea and the spices and the other will include them.
Sift the flour into a large bowl
Add the sugar and salt and mix well
Add the spices if you are using them
Add the yeast and mix well
Add the softened butter evenly across the mixture.
Add the water (or Earl Grey tea) and bring it all together until everything is well incorporated
Tip the mix out onto a work surface, bring it together and knead for a few minutes.
Flatten the dough out and sprinkle the sultanas across the surface of the dough
Fold the edges into the middle and continue to knead until you have a soft and pliable dough.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave until it has doubled in volume.
Prepare your baking tins.
Weigh the dough and then tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop. Knock it back and begin to portion it out according to the size of your baking tins. Remember, you'll be expecting the dough to rise again in a second proof to double the volume.
Cover and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 190⁰C.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the loaves are a golden colour and hollow when tapped on the underneath.
Cool on a rack.
If you want to glaze them, you can do so after baking with a mixture of sugar and water or melted butter. I'm not glazing them as they're headed for the freezer.