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Gram’s Irish Raisin Bread

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Gram’s Irish Raisin Bread is a tradition that goes back 4 generations to my great-grandmother who was born in Ireland. Not your traditional raisin bread, this bread is hearty, but not super sweet. With a slab of butter, it’s the perfect complement to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

Gram’s Irish Raisin Bread

Cooking Time: 30 min


  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter + 2 tbsp, melted for brushing
  • 3 packets rapid rise dry active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water + ¼ tsp of sugar
  • 2 ½ lbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ lbs white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 30 oz raisins
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp salt


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. Once hot, remove top layer of film using a spoon. Remove from heat and add in butter, stirring until melted. Let cool.
  2. Fill a tall glass with warm water. Add yeast and a ¼ tsp of sugar. Stir to combine and let sit. Over 5 minutes, you should see the yeast begin to rise in the glass.
  3. In an extra large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, raisins, and salt.
  4. Add cooled milk + butter mixture and applesauce. Stir to combine.
  5. Use your (clean) hands to mix dough together once you can no longer stir to combine. If dough seems dry, add a little more milk. Kneed dough for 30-60 seconds but not too long - once dough seems soft and elastic, stop.
  6. Cover bowl with a towel or blanket and let rise for 2 hours.
  7. After two hours, punch/kneed the dough down, for about 30 seconds or so.
  8. Cover the bowl again. Let rise for another hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Divide dough into 4 loaves and place into greased loaf pans. Let loaves rise in the pans for 30-45 minutes.
  10. Brush tops with melted butter.
  11. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and place loaves in oven to bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and dough is cooked all the way through.

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This bread is not your average (cinnamon) raisin bread or Irish soda bread. In fact, there’s no cinnamon or baking soda even involved. This bread is not very sweet – the raisins give it a touch of sweet but for the most part not as sweet as a typical raisin bread. That’s why I love it though. It’s great toasted with butter too. And perfect when it’s still warm, right out of the oven.

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