Grandma Hawkins had 13 kids (11 boys) so everything she cooked made a
big batch. This one uses three regular size loaf pans and three little ones or 5 regular size loaf pans. Grandma also never really measured anything. My Dad really liked this bread so one time followed her around while she was making it and measured everything and recorded the recipe. Dad made this around the Holidays and I have been for many years now too. Takes me back in time every time I make it. I always send some to Mom and my siblings. Good stuff.
Step 1: Ingredients
1 lb raisins cooked and cooled. Raisins in a pan and add water just to cover the raisins, simmer stirring occasionally for a few minutes, remove from heat cover the pan and set aside to cool. The raisins will absorb much of the water. Don't drain, it will all be used.
6 Cups flour (more or less)
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup shortening or 1/2 cup shortening + 1/2 cup butter
1 Cup Buttermilk or sour milk. Grandma would make sour milk by adding one Tablespoon vinegar to 1/4 cup of canned milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk) then adding enough water to make 1 Cup.
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Baking soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
Nuts, cherries, dates to suit
Step 2: Mixing
Mix together the shortening and sugar. I'm using a stand mixer but it could be done by hand. The batter gets pretty stiff so it's a bit of a workout.
Once the shortening and sugar are mixed, add in the baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix to combine
Once it's all combined, add the eggs and mix again.
Next add the raisins. Put them all in there including any liquid that wasn't absorbed, it'll add flavor and keep it moist.
Now add 1/2 the flour and 1/2 the buttermilk/sour milk. Keep adding a cup or so of flour and a little buttermilk at a time until all the flour and buttermilk are incorporated. You're going for texture here, stiff batter is what you want.
After all that, throw in a couple hand fulls of chopped nuts. I'm using walnuts but as a kid we had a hickory tree next door that would drop a lot on our side so we'd use those and they were great too. I also added green and red candied cherries at this point, 1/2 an 8oz container each. One could leave out the cherries if you like.
Mix it all up.
Step 3: Prepare for Baking
This is pretty important:
Grease the loaf pans REALLY WELL make sure you get down in all the corners or it will stick. I use the wrapper from the shortening and smear around what stuck to the wrapper, that's usually enough, use butter if you need more.
Divide between all your pans and lightly press in just to even it out, like I said, it's a pretty stiff batter.
Step 4: Bake
Bake at 350F for 50 minutes. Grandma's original instructions said to check it with a broom straw, I just use a knife stuck in the middle to see if the batter is set or not.
Usually the small loaf pans are done at 50 minutes, the large pans use another 10 minutes.
This bread freezes well and is great at the holidays or whenever.
If you make this, let me know. If you like it, I'd appreciate a vote in the Baking Contest.