- 21/4 Teaspoons instant yeast
- 41/2 Cups bread flour, divided
- 2/3 Cup warm water
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
- 11/4 Teaspoons salt
- 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
- 13/4 Cups California raisins
- 1 egg, for glaze
In large bowl, whisk yeast together with 3/4 cup flour. Then, whisk in warm water until smooth. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes or until it begins to ferment and puffs up slightly. Then, whisk in eggs, one at a time; stir in oil, salt and sugar until well incorporated and sugar is dissolved. By hand with a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour all at once. When mixture forms a shaggy ball, turn onto floured work surface and knead until smooth and soft, no more than 10 minutes. When windowpane consistency, knead in raisins until incorporated. Place in a clean, warm bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Or dough may be refrigerated for 24 hours; remove from the refrigerator to finish fermenting.
Oil or line 1 or 2 large baking sheets, with parchment paper. Divide dough and braid or shape as desired. Arrange on prepared sheets and cover with plastic wrap; let proof until tripled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Or loaves may be refrigerated up to 2 1/2 hours and warmed at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
Arrange oven racks in the upper and lower third positions for 2 baking sheets or upper third position for 1 baking sheet. Remove any remaining racks. Preheat oven to 350°F.
For glaze, beat egg with a pinch of salt. When loaves have tripled and remain indented when gently pressed with finger, brush with egg glaze. Bake rolls for 15 to 20 minutes and 1 1/2-pound loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, until very well browned. After 20 minutes, turn pans one-half turn. Tent with foil to prevent excess browning. When done, remove from pans and cool on a rack.
Variation: Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar topping.