1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk (lowfat)
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
Raisin Bread topping and filling
3/4 cup raisins, plumped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy. As the yeast proofs, combine 4 tablespoons of butter and buttermilk and heat until butter melts. I measure the buttermilk into a 2 cup measuring cup, add the butter (cut into pieces) and microwave for a minute or two, checking the progress. Don't worry if the buttermilk curdles.
- In a stand mixer, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of white flour, salt, baking soda and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the buttermilk and combine. This should bring down the temperature of a bit and keep the yeast happy. The add the proofed yeast. Process until the dough comes together forming a ball that does not stick to the sides or bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too moist, add flour 2 tablespoons at at time.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Butter a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch it down and let it rise again until double, this time about 45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. Place one loaf into a buttered loaf pan. If you are making two plain loaves, add the second piece of dough to the other loaf pan. Let rise for 45 minutes.
- If making raisin bread, plumb the raisins by pouring hot water over them and letting them sit for 5 minutes, then drain. While the raisins are plumping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and melt 3 tablespoons of butter in another small bowl. Roll out the dough no wider than the loaf pan, about 8 x 24 . Using a pastry brush, cover the loaf with most of the melted butter (reserving some for the topping), sprinkle most of the cinnamon sugar(reserving some for the topping) evenly over the buttered dough and then sprinkle the raisins over the cinnamon sugar. Roll the loaf from the narrowest side to and fit it into the pan. Let rise for 45 minutes. Towards the end of the final rise, brush the top of the loaf with the reserved butter and sprinkle it with the reserved cinnamon sugar.
- Towards the end of the final rise, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the loaves until nicely golden and turn onto wire racks to cool. If you are unsure about when the bread is done, check to see that the internal temperature is 200 degrees.