Yield: 10 servings
Recipe by Daniel Neman, adapted from several books.
1 1⁄2 cups any combination of raisins, golden raisins and currants, see note
1 cup cold tea, optional, see note
4 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon table salt
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground allspice
Pinch ground ginger
1⁄8 teaspoon (2 pinches) ground coriander
1⁄8 teaspoon (2 pinches) ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon (2 pinches) ground nutmeg
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk, divided
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, divided
2⁄3 cup candied fruit (as for fruitcake)
Note: Plain raisins will do, if you don’t have golden raisins and currants. And it is not necessary to soak them in advance, but they will be plumper if you do. Some people in Ireland use tea for soaking, which adds a bit of tannin and taste to push against the raisin mixture’s sweetness, but, again, it is not necessary. Water will do.
If desired, soak the raisins in the cold tea or water overnight. Before making the bread, drain and dry on paper towels.
Line a 9-inch cake pan or 2 loaf pans with parchment paper, and grease it and the pan’s sides with butter or nonstick spray. Sift together the flour, salt, cloves, allspice, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl and leave in a warm place.
Heat the milk until warm, but not hot. Place 3 tablespoons in a cup with the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and stir until combined. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the surface is frothy. Meanwhile, add the butter to the remaining 1 cup milk, bring to a boil and allow to cool until tepid.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and add the remaining 1⁄ cup sugar. Beat 1 of the eggs and add it. Add the tepid milk4 butter mixture and the raisins, and mix to a loose dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the raisins were not sufficiently dried, the dough may be sticky; if so, add a little flour at a time until it is smooth and elastic. Dust the bowl with flour and return the dough to it. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 50 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface again, and knead for 1 minute. Place in prepared pan or pans, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise 20 more minutes in a warm place.
Beat the remaining 1 egg, mix with 1 tablespoon water, and brush over top of loaf or loaves. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until done. If the top starts to become too brown, tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Nutrition | Per serving: 353 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 50 mg cholesterol; 8 g protein; 67 g carbohydrate; 23 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 212 mg sodium; 66 mg calcium