A delicious bread to enjoy in many occasions.This recipe doubles easily.
Heat the milk and butter, using a small saucepan a medium heat, just until the butter melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool to a lukewarm (this is about 110° F)
While cooling, sprinkle the yeast over the water using a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the sugar and eggs. Add salt, the lukewarm milk mixture, 2 cups of the flour. Then add another 1 1/4 cups flour. If the dough sticks to the sides, use more flour sparingly. Mix until the dough comes together then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 12-15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Adding flour only if necessary. Transfer the dough to a very large lightly oiled glass container.
Cover top of bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Allow to rise until doubled, 2-2 and a half hour, in a warm (75° F) dry place.
After the rise, punch down the dough - Literally punching the center of it. At this point the dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 18 hours. Do not fold or in anyway misshapen the dough, turn it out onto an unfloured work surface. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Grease the sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf (bread) pan, Set aside, and mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Press dough neatly into an even (o as even as you can get it) 6x8 inch rectangle. With the shorter side facing you, roll out the dough until you get an even 8x 18 inch rectangle. You can flour the surface very lightly if the dough is sticky. Brush dough liberally with the milk. Sprinkle your cinnamon and sugar mix evenly over the surface leaving a 1/2 inch border at the far end. Sprinkle on the raisins, using as much or as little to your taste.
Starting at the end closest to you, begin to roll up the dough. Pinch the dough gently with your finger tips to make sure it has a tight seal. Your dough will attempt to widen, use your hands to push it back in. When you reach the end of the dough, pinch the ends together to form a secure seam. Seam side up, push in the ends. Firmly pinch the sides to seal.
With the seam side down, place the loaf into the prepared pan, press down lightly to flatten. Cover the top loosely with the plastic wrap or your kitchen towel. Allow dough to rise for 1 and a half hour - 2 and a half hours, if you had refrigerated the dough - until it has risen to 1 inch over the top of the pan. As the dough rises closer to the top, place your oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 350° F.
While waiting, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Then gently brush the dough top with the mixture.
Bake for 30-34 minutes or until the bread is a golden brown in color. Remove from pan and allow to cool on its side, using a wire rack or muffin pan. For at least 45 minutes. You can then double wrap the bread and store and room temperature for 4 days or freeze for 3 months.
If not wanting to do everything by hand. You can use a heavy duty mixer.
Starting with sprinkling the yeast into a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the sugar and eggs and yeast mix at low speed and blend. Add the salt, lukewarm milk mix and 2 cups of flour, mixing at a medium speed until well blended.
Switch your paddle to a dough hook, adding 1 1/4 cups of flour, kneading at a medium low speed. Add flour if the dough sticks to the sides. Knead until the dough comes away from the bowl, this can take around 10 minutes. Continue following the rest of the directions.
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