I was first introduced to this raisin bread by my Mother-in-law, who gave it to me with some hot cocoa while I was visiting with her during the winter. She got this recipe from her mother, who remembers eating it as a child during the holidays. It was fabulous! Cloves, allspice, cinnamon, just perfect for a cold winter day. Now, well call it what it is, basically a fruitcake but lighter and much tastier. It has much more of a heavy bread like consistency than a cake like consistency. For some reason it sounded really good the other day and even though I wouldn't call it a summer food at all I made some anyway. Since I have a super-sized bag of craisins from Costco and no raisins I used craisins instead. I do have to say, my house smelled like Christmas while it was baking and I loved every second of it.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups raisins
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
In a large pot bring the above ingredients to a boil and boil over medium heat 4-5 minutes. (I assume this process is just to plump the craisins back up because the liquid didn't seem to thicken at all) Remove from heat and let cool. While mixture is cooling preheat oven to 250ºF and grease and flour 2 loaf pans. (That's about how long I let it cool, so it was still warm okay, maybe more than a little warm.)
Add to the warm mixture:
- 2 eggs, well beaten (if you mix in a small spoonful of the warm mixture to the eggs before adding them it will keep them from cooking to quickly when you add them to the mixture )
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 2 tsp. soda
- 1 cup nuts (I used pecans)
- 2 cups candied fruit (optional, I didn't use any and like I said, it's almost a fruit cake)
Mix well. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Grandma's version recipe calls for one large loaf pan, but notes that she preferred to use 5 small loaf pans. She notes it can also be made in a spring form pan. She also notes that you can put a pan of water in the oven while it bakes to help keep the cake moist.