A simple but satisfying bread with raisins and toasted walnuts that is an old family recipe. I already make Pecan Butter Ball cookies every year for the holidays and I attribute that recipe to my Grandmother Bathe. They are a favorite of mine and I recall fondly helping her as a girl and making them every year that I can remember either with my mom when I was young or now with my own family. I wondered through a group email to relatives if there were other family members who might have a similar family tradition that they would share with me for a new section on this blog devoted to family recipes from the Bathe’s (pronounced Bay-thee), my Dad’s side of the family. After putting the word out, I look forward to seeing what comes from my request.
First in is this recipe for Raisin Nut Bread from my cousin Judy who lives in Tennessee. She is lucky to have an old cookbook of her mother’s (my Aunt Betty) titled “What’s Cookin” by the Ladies of the Epiphany of our Lord Parish compiled and edited by the Mothers of the Epiphany School, St. Louis, MO, the church that my grandparents attended.
I remember attending Mass with my Grandma at the Epiphany of our Lord Parish so seeing the name of the church on this cookbook brought back a flood of memories. We would walk to church from her house (my Grandmother never drove a car) and I would attend with her on one of the treasured times I got to spend the night with her when I was a young girl. It didn’t seem at all strange that we shared her bedroom and my Grandpa was in another, in fact it wouldn’t have been near the fun if she hadn’t been in there with me! I loved sleeping in the bed by the window with a tree outside and in the summer having the birds in that tree wake us up!
She attended Mass every day and I’m sure was very involved with this church when her children were growing up. Turns out the recipe I’ve used for those many years for Pecan Butter Balls is also in this cookbook though not attributed to her, but no matter; for me they are and always will be Grandma’s Pecan Butter Balls!
I tried the Raisin Nut bread first from the list my cousin sent me because I usually start off my day with a slice of raisin bread so the notion of making my own WITH walnuts was exciting so I was quick to get this made and in the oven. I was so richly blessed when the folks with California Walnuts (@CAWalnuts on Twitter) sent me a gift of 5 pounds of fresh walnuts; sort of a new obsession. As I told them…toasting them a bit before baking with them has made all the difference in how much I love walnuts. And other nuts which shall not be mentioned (pecans…shh).
Can I just tell you how amazing the house smells! I had every intention of staying true to this recipe but I love ‘fiddling’ with almost everything so I did make some modifications but you can call them optional. Though I must say that bit of rum with the raisins…why would you opt out of that? 🙂
This photo was typical of holiday gatherings when all of the Bathe kids would come to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner…with their many kids! I have some great memories of meals in this house; by the time I was old enough to remember, there were something like 15 cousins when the family would gather. In this photo, my grandparents were each at one end of the table; my Mom and Dad are next to each other on the upper right, my Aunt Betty is at the head of the table with Grandma and we’re not sure if that’s my older brother John or me to left of my Grandfather (only 11 months separated our birth!). The two kids on the right are my cousins John and Mary who are Betty and my Dad’s brother Bob’s two kids. I think that’s my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Ted on the left. My Dad’s sibling’s either had five kids, none or…went into the convent; here’s a picture of my Grandma with Sister Mary Lizette; or as we know her, Aunt Jane. My Aunt Jane and my Dad are still alive and both still live in St Louis.
My cousin shared that there are two other interesting things in the cookbook which she had never read before! One she defines as absolutely ridiculous and amounts to how to preserve a husband. Come on Judy, I would have liked to have read that piece…do they suggest formaldehyde or some other method?
The other is a recipe for a happy day and I thought it sweet and words we can still live by from this book that must have been published at least 85 years ago!
Recipe for a Happy Day
A little dash of water cold
A little leaven of prayer
A little bit of sunshine gold
Dissolved in morning air
Add to your meal some merriment
With a thought of kith and kin
And then as a prime ingredient
Plenty of work thrown in
Flavor it with the essence of love
And a little dash of play
Let a nice old book and a glance inside
Complete the well spent day.
I’m making both the cookies and this bread for Christmas gift packages that will be sent to family and friends including my Dad and my Aunt Jane. Hope they enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as I did.
There will be more! Happy Holidays!
Raisin Walnut Bread
For the Bread:
- 3 Cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg well beaten
- 1 ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter original called for shortening but I'm betting butter was too expensive to use then; I don't keep any solid shortening in the house; it's either Canola or butter so I opted for butter.
- 1 Cup seedless raisins
- ¼ cup rum or water optional but I could not resist...my raisins were a bit dry and what better than RUM Raisin Nut bread?!
- ¾ cup chopped nuts (not originally called for but I toast mine for 7-8 minutes in the over before chopping them; makes them even more wonderful
For the Glaze:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp milk
- Heat the rum or water to boiling, remove from heat; add raisins and let sit to absorb liquid for 15 minutes.
- Sift together, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Add raisins (and any liquid) and nuts.
- Combine egg, milk and butter. Stir into dry ingredients, pour into a greased bread loaf pan, 8 inches by 4 inches.
- Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes, then bake in moderate over 350 degrees for our 1 1/4 hours.
- Remove and cool on wire rack.
- If you want to drizzle with icing, combine powdered sugar and cinnamon.
- Add enough milk to the powdered sugar until it's just thick enough to drizzle over the top of the bread.
- Cool completely.