- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 Cup lukewarm water
- 1 vanilla beans
- 1 Cup milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 Cup honey
- 5 Cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/4 Cup melted, unsalted butter
- 21/2 Teaspoons salt
- 1 Cup California raisins
- 1 Cup California golden raisins
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water; for egg wash
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape beans into milk. Warm to lukewarm and strain; discard beans. Combine warm milk, eggs and honey with yeast mixture. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Stir 100 times with a wooden spoon, changing directions several times and scraping down sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place for 1 hour, or until bubbly.
To knead by hand, fold melted butter and salt into the sponge with a wooden spoon. Begin adding remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead, adding flour as needed, for 10 minutes, or until the dough is very elastic and silky. (May also be kneaded in mixer with dough hook attachment.) Lightly oil large bowl. Shape dough into ball; place in bowl, turning to coat top with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel; set in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few more times by hand, adding raisins. Divide evenly into 2 pieces and shape into rolls about 16 inches long. Arrange each roll in a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and set in warm place to rise for 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and brush tops with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until lightly browned and loaf sounds hollow when tapped with finger.