Rosemary Raisin Bread

I make this every year at the holidays. I always stick a finished loaf in the freezer to enjoy with tea after the holidays. I serve it toasted with apricot preserves. Make sure you use extra virgin olive oil.


Makes 2 loaves plus a smaller one


INGREDIENTS
1 ½ cup plus 2 T warm water
1 ½ T yeast
>¼ cup plus 1 T sugar (divided)
1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
3-5 sprigs rosemary (divided)
3 # flour (10 1/2 cups)
1 T salt
¼ cup sugar
6 eggs
3 yolks
8-12 ounces yellow raisins


METHOD
Combine yeast, water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup.

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and 1 ½ sprigs rosemary until fragrant and crispy.

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.

Sift together flour, salt and remaining ¼ cup sugar.

Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a mixing bowl (preferably the bowl from a stand mixer), then strain olive oil into eggs and whisk well to combine.

Add the proofed yeast to the eggs and oil and mix well.

Add the flour mixture, yellow raisins and 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary to the mixing bowl and mix using dough hook. When it comes together, turn out onto floured work surface and knead until smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl (use the same olive oil), turning it to coat the top of the dough. Cover the bowl well with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down, knead, and portion into two loaves, each weighing about 2.5 pounds. You will have a small amount leftover - this recipe yields 2 full size loaves and one much smaller one.

Place in a regular loaf pan (mine measure 9x5x3 on the outside) sprayed with baking release and cover with plastic. Allow to rise again until nicely rounded above the rim of the loaf pan. Don't skimp on this second rise. If you do the loaves will rise too quickly in the oven and burst at the sides - bread's version of stretch-marks.

Brush the tops of the loaves with egg wash, score and bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 20-30 minutes. Loaves are done when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool.

To serve, slice with a serrated knife and serve, toasted or not, with apricot jam. The bread freezes well - just wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

Egg Wash

Egg wash is what makes certain breads - like challah -  golden and glossy. To make it, combine one egg yolk with about 1/4 cup milk. Whisk well. Use a pastry brush to coat surface of bread, being careful to only touch the bread and not let it dribble down to the sides of the pan. When this happens it can interfere with the rising process.


copyright 2008-ad infinitum Katie Fairbank
www.katiefairbank.com