James Beard Raisin Bread
Yield: 2 Loaves
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups luke warm milk
1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
5 to 6 cups AP flour
1 ½ cups raisins plumped overnight in sherry, cognac, or amaretto enough to barely cover. ½ teaspoon ground mace 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest.
1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 tablespoons of cream (to be brushed on the loaves before baking)
Dissolve and proof the yeast in ¼ cup of warm milk. Combine remainder of the warm milk, sugar, salt and three tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture then gradually stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until you form a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover and set in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2.5 hours.
Punch the dough down and knead for 3 minutes, return to bowl and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each out into a rectangle about 7”x 20”. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the raisin mixture. Roll the dough up tightly, tuck the ends under. Fit each roll, seam side down in two well-buttered 8”x 4”x 2” loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise until the dough is peaking over the top of the pans.
Brush the loaves with the egg yolk and cream mixture and bake at 400oF for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350oF and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the top and bottom. If necessary, return the loaves to the oven without the pans to brown the bottom crust.