Raisin Bran Bread

It is evident that I go 'bananas' for breakfast breads and this Raisin Bran Bread is no exception. A fine addition to the Red Star Yeast series, just in time for your breakfast, or lingering brunch this weekend. I can't wait to have a slice with my favorite apricot jam.
The original recipe instructions are for kneading by hand so I adjusted the directions for the mixer. In order to do so, I wished to double check my facts, especially the water temperature and yeast conversion chart. A refresher once in a while never hurts. In the process I came across a few baking tips and facts that made me think.."how about that?!"
Three curious tid bits I found in Red Star Yeast's Baking Tips section:
1. Olive oil will prevent the loaf from drying out too quickly. I needed the reminder here. Maybe I'll use olive oil when baking olive bread and try it with other breads too.
2. Using milk instead of water produces softer crust. I personally thought it produces a softer crumb but the crust didn't cross my mind.
3. Lite salt can be used if it has both potassium chloride and sodium. I had no idea there is such a thing as lite salt.
Some fundamental questions such as 'what's the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour' and 'tips for baking in high altitudes' are answered in the frequently asked questions section. It is quite educational, so I am going to geek out, yet again, at Red Star Yeast's site and with my baking books, over a cappuccino, this weekend.

This post is a part of my professional collaboration with Red Star Yeast. See a complete list of the breads in the series, below.

Raisin Bran Bread
adapted from Red Star Yeast original recipe

1/4 cup melted butter or oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
2 packets active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons total)
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup raisins

Melt the butter, if using butter, and set aside.

In a mixer bowl dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water (110F-115F), stir in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy. Whisk in the milk and sugar and mix.

Gradually add 2 cups bread flour, salt, bran and wheat germ. Mix on a low speed, with a dough hook attachment, until smooth. Scrape the sides of the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Fold in the melted butter or oil and raisins.

Add 1 more cup of flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, to the mixture, while continuing to knead on low speed with a dough hook attachment. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you go with a rubber spatula. Gradually add what you need of the last 1 1/2 cups of flour until the dough forms into a nice, elastic,and smooth ball. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, for approximately 1-1 1/2 hours. 

Punch the air out of the dough on a floured surface. Roll out the dough to a 14X7 inch rectangle and roll tightly from the shorter side into a tight roll. Pinch the edges and tuck under the loaf. Place the loaf, with the seams facing down, in an oiled parchment papered 9X5X3 loaf pan and let proof covered with kitchen towels for 1 hour in a warm place.

Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

Cook's notes:
1. I wanted a large hefty loaf but by all means you can divide the dough into two smaller loaves.
2. Freezes well. Slice, wrap in foil and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Reheat in foil at preheated 350F oven, for 10 (or more) minutes.