Raisin Bread for Raisin Lovers

I know there are people who don’t like raisins. I happen to think that’s crazy.

But that just means more raisins for those of us who do.

This bread is for raisin lovers and for those of us who can appreciate the sweet, wrinkly, dried fruit. I said I wasn’t going to make bread from scratch in Aruba because I don’t have a stand mixer here, it’s humid here and damp air and bread dough aren’t friends, and because well, bread takes time and effort. But I was going through a hardcore case of yeast withdrawals after making four bread recipes in November and just had to make bread.

I missed the yeasty smell of bread dough, the feeling of warm soft dough in my hands, and the satisfaction that comes from turning out a homemade loaf. Most of all, I missed the taste of homemade bread so I got to work.

To make the bread, combine half a stick of melted and slightly cooled butter, warmed milk, a beaten egg, a tiny bit of sugar, cinnamon, and optional salt with one packet of instant dry yeast and two cups of bread flour in one big bowl.

The milk can be warmed in a heat-safe glass measuring cup or small bowl in the microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds. I aim for 125F because I use Platinum Red Star Yeast. I brought some with me in my suitcase because I strongly believe in the results and had a feeling I’d want to make bread and came prepared. Milk for most other instant dry yeast should likely be in the 95 to 105F range, but always reference the packaging recommendations.

Mix everything together with a spoon or just get in there with your hands for the fun known as hand-kneading. No stand mixer, no dough hooks, no bread machines, just elbow grease. You don’t need the gym if you knead your own dough. It’s a workout, but a much more enjoyable one than the lat pulldown machine.

Knead the dough for five to eight minutes or until it combines into a soft, smooth, supple ball. If you’re a turbo-kneader, five minutes will probably do the trick, but I’m not. I’m a little pokey, and it took about eight minutes before I called it a day.

When kneading, add up to one-third of a cup of additional flour, for 2 and 1/3 cups total (12 ounces by weight), in order for the dough to become smooth. Add only as much flour as necessary because the more flour that’s added, the denser the dough and finished loaf becomes. Generally with bread-making, the least amount of flour you can get away with adding, the better.

I used bread flour rather than all-purpose because the slightly higher gluten content provides extra structural integrity and the dough will rise better and be more forgiving in case my kneading wasn’t prefect.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it back into the mixing bowl, cover with plasticwrap, and allow it to rise in a warm and draft-free place until doubled in size, about two to three hours. Rising times are variable and will, among other things, depend on room temperature. I went to the pool while the dough was rising and came back two and a half hours later and it had puffed nicely.

  Punch the dough down, turn it out onto the counter, sprinkle one cup raisins on top of it, and knead them in. Knead for about two minutes and the raisins will try to sneak out, but just poke them back in. Flatten and stretch the dough into a large rectangle about 8-by-12-inches; no rolling pin necessary. Starting with a short side, roll up the dough into a log, place it seam side down into a sprayed 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and allow it to rise until almost doubled in size. I went for a run, took a shower, and about two hours later, it had almost doubled in size.

I baked the bread for 26 minutes at 375F but my oven runs hot and it’s uneven. Baking times will vary, but anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes are my estimates. When the bread is done, it’ll  be golden on top and when removed from the loaf pan, and tapped sharply on the top and bottom, it should sound hollow. As tempting as it is to cut into bread when it’s still warm, don’t. Bread isn’t considered done until it’s fully cooled because the carryover heat continues to cook the bread while it’s cooling on a rack so just be patient. Easier said than done with the intoxicating smell of freshly baked bread and sweet raisins perfuming your house.

The bread is hearty and chewy, with a thicker outer crust that peels away to reveal a softer and very moist interior. The raisins and their moisture serve to tenderize the soft and dense crumb. The bread is excellent toasted and I like it with plenty of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar.

There’s raisins, and plenty of them, in every bite. There’s nothing worse than raisin bread with like five raisins in the whole slice, which isn’t a problem here. Calling all raisin lovers, this bread is for you.

Raisin Bread for Raisin Lovers
Prep time
Cook time
Calling all Raisin Lovers, this bread is for you. There's nothing worse than raisin bread that is skimpy on the raisins and this version is anything but and is chock full of raisins in every bite. The bread is chewy and has a hearty outer crust with a dense, soft, and moist interior. It's excellent toasted with butter and sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar. Bread can be made entirely by hand, no stand mixer required. Time investment is approximately 5 hours from start to finish, with very little active work time. This includes 10 minutes to make the dough, 2 to 3 hours for first rise, 2 hours for second rise, and 30 minutes to bake.
Serves: one 9-by-5-inch loaf (1-pound loaf)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup milk (5 ounces), warmed to 95 to 125F (see instructions below)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (half of one stick)
  • 2¼ teaspoons (one one-ounce packet) instant dry yeast (I use Red Star Platinum)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • 2 cups + up to ⅓ cup bread flour (12 ounces)
  • 1 heaping cup raisins
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg; set aside. In a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, warm the milk to temperature, about 30 to 45 seconds. Based on the type of yeast used, temperatures will vary. Red Star Platinum yeast calls for warmer temperatures than most, 120 to 130F; other brands and yeast call for much lower temperatures, about 95 to 105F. Warm the milk according to the yeast manufacturer's recommendations on the packaging. Taking the temperature with a digital thermometer is recommended, but if you're not, make sure the milk is warm, not hot. Err on the cooler rather than hotter side so you don't kill the yeast. Add warmed milk to the egg.
  2. Add melted butter, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, optional salt, and stir to combine. Add 2 cups bread flour and using a spoon and then your hands, form the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured work-surface or Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat and knead for 5 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and supple. Kneading may be done in a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment (knead for 5 to 8 minutes), but I kneaded by hand. If necessary, add up to one-third cup additional flour, for 2 and ⅓ cups total (12 ounces total by weight), in order for the dough to combine and become smooth. The more flour that’s added, the denser and heavier the bread will be; so add it only as necessary.
  3. Mound the dough into a ball. Spray mixing bowl (the same one used to make the dough is fine) with cooking spray or lightly grease it, and place dough into bowl.Cover bowl with plasticwarp and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about two to three hours. Punch dough down, remove it from bowl, and place on Silpat or floured work surface. Sprinkle raisins over the dough and knead them in, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Raisins may have a tendency to come out of dough but just poke them back in.
  4. Flatten the dough into a large rectangle, about 8-inches-by-12-inches. I used my hands and just stretched it and finger-massaged it into the rectangle shape, but use a rolling pin if preferred. Starting with a short side, roll dough up into a log. Pinch off ends and place dough log into a sprayed or greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, seam side down. Cover pan with plasticwarp and place in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about two hours.
  5. In the final minutes of the second rise, preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden on top. When bread is removed from loaf pan and tapped sharply on the top and bottom, it should sound hollow. Place bread on a wire rack to finish cooling completely before slicing and serving. I wrap bread in plasticwrap, then place it in a large ziptop plastic food storage bag, where it stays fresh for about 5 days. Bread freezes very well and can be made from start to finish, cooled, and placed in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock for up to 3 months. I prefer this bread toasted and with butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar or Cinnamon-Sugar Butter

Related Recipes:

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolproof, no-knead recipe that’s perfect for the first-time bread maker. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again, especially because this bread is spiked with cinnamon-sugar and raisins

Oatmeal Raisin Rolls – Hearty, chewy, soft, lightly sweetened with honey, and full of texture from raisins and oats. Part dinner roll, part healthy cinnamon roll. Roll can be made ahead of time – make a batch from start to finish, freeze the rolls, and pull them out as needed for brunch, snacks, holiday gatherings or any time

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to a cinnamon roll as a bread can get and still be called bread rather than dessert. Rich, sweet, and light. This bread is for the cinnamon lover’s and is abundantly flavored with cinnamon, which is used twice in the bread recipe, and again in the cinnamon-sugar butter I serve it with

Honey Dinner Rolls – Soft, light, fluffy, tender, moist and the dough has just enough chew to really sink my teeth into. They’re the absolute best white dinner rolls I’ve ever had and I will make this recipe over and over for years to come when I need white dinner rolls. Highly recommended for holiday gatherings, brunches, or anytime

Challah – Light, fluffy, soft, tender, crossiant-like, and the best challah I’ve ever had and extremely easy to make. Made using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking principles, this is a no-knead, goofproof, and effortless method to making bread and dough can be made in advance and stored for up to five days prior to baking it

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Soft, chewy, tender and a timeless oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. I like to make them with a raisin medley, including big plump golden raisins

Dark Rum Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Perfect for holiday parties or those occasions when drinking your rum and eating it too (via cookies) sounds about right

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF) – Use ample amounts of oats and chewy raisins and they’re my favorite chewy granola bar recipe because the results are very Chewy Quaker granola bar-like in about ten minutes at home and I can customize the ingredients

Do you like raisins?

 Feel free to link your favorite raisin recipes or any great bread recipes you have.

69 comments on “Raisin Bread for Raisin Lovers”

  1. Well I love raisins as much as you!! So save some of this for me :)

  2. I don’t love raisins but this actually looks really good!!

  3. Looks fabulous! Raisin bread is on of my favorites! Yours looks so soft and delish!!

  4. This looks incredible, Averie! I’m definitely a raisin fan, my mom and I just tried this awesome raisin sourdough bread today. Whenever I bake bread I rarely use my stand mixer, I guess I just enjoy doing all the work on my own! I agree, more entertaining than lat pull downs, ha.

  5. Holy perfect raisin bread! I am in love with the 4th photo! I could seriously lick the screen there, thank you very much! I have wonderful memories of toasted raisin bread with butter melting on it for an evening snack and sometimes breakfast, too. We would toast like 6 pieces each and spread the butter on liberally. Oh man…so good! I think it is simply awesome that you made homemade bread while you are on vacation due to yeast bread withdrawl! When you have had the best, the best is what satisfies! I can’t wait to make this. YUM! :-)

  6. I happen to love raisins, and this is totally calling to me. I have been craving to bake some bread but haven’t found the time (or energy!) with the new little guy. But now, after seeing this, that is going to have to change!!

  7. I imagine toasting this and making buttering a slice up with some nice cinnamon honey butter. Yummo!

  8. I have been on a big carb kick and all of that bread looks amazing! Yum!

  9. I love loaded up raisin bread.
    Just like this.
    And I love it smothered in butter and peanut butter! lol

  10. i love raisins…my boys love raisins…so much that I ordered a 15# bag from the food coop I belong too…hence I still have a lot of raisins to use up…I just said I think I need to make using yeast as a new years resolution for 2013…than I can make this awesome looking bread…along with many other of your recipes!

  11. This recipe completely took me back to childhood with the raisin and cinnamon swirled bread in the morning with a pat of butter melted perfectly on top. I have to try this immediately!

  12. So, I’m one of the non-raisin lovers. BUT my husband loves raisins, and he would devour this bread!

  13. I made 2 mini loaves of raisin bread..with barely enough vertical clearance (for my toaster oven) once the dough had risen in the pans! As a result, one side of each loaf browned a bit more (next time I’ll rotate the pans). The taste is wonderful- a hint of sweetness in the dough itself and lots of raisins.

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