Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sweet Raisin Buns (with Optional Raisins)

My in-laws have a special fondness for raisin buns. Apparently, they used to buy them from a local Dutch bakery, until it closed years ago. Once my father-in-law found out I like to cook, it's been an ongoing topic of interest to re-create these raisin buns.

I'll be honest, I've never been big on raisins. However, I have dutifully tried several recipes for Dutch raisin bread that I found on various corners of the internet. Sadly, all of them failed, being too dense or or too dry. Good for toast, but not for a dinner roll. From what I gather, these buns are supposed to be soft and sweet.

This time around, I decided to start with a basic Hawaiian sweet bread, as this is the softest, sweetest bread I can think of. I know... Hawaiian bread? Not very Dutch. But I made a couple of my own adjustments and ended up with a super-soft, incredibly moist dinner roll. Just in time for Easter! And no one seems to be complaining about the pineapple juice.

Sweet Raisin Buns
(Print Recipe)

2 cups pineapple juice
4 packages dry active yeast
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
4 eggs
8-9 cups all purpose flour
2 cups raisins (optional)

Warm up the pineapple juice in the microwave for about 30 seconds (longer if refrigerated). Pour the warm juice into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow it to soak for several minutes, until foamy.

Add sugar, salt, butter, and eggs, mixing on low until combined. Gradually add the first 8 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Add as much of the remaining flour as you can. Dough will seem stiff, but don't overdo it or they will turn out dry. Knead the dough in the stand mixer for 3 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap (spray the plastic wrap to prevent sticking). Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

If you are using raisins, bring them to a boil them in 2 cups of water to make them nice and soft. (If you have any leftover pineapple juice, replace some of the water with it.) Turn off the heat and allow them to soak until dough is ready.

Punch down dough and knead in raisins on a lightly floured surface (I did half with raisins).

Divide dough into golf ball-sized rolls. You should end up with about 48. (Definitely cut the recipe in half, or even quarter it if you are making these for a smaller group.) Place them close together in a greased baking pan. Any pan or combination of pans you have will work. I used a combination of pie plates and casserole dishes in order to fit them all. Tip: 24 rolls (half the dough) fit perfectly in a 10" x 15" baking pan; 8 rolls fit perfectly in a 9-inch pie plate. Allow rolls to rise again for 1 hour.

Before baking, brush the tops with a mixture of egg and a tablespoon of water whisked together.

Bake at 350° F for 20-30 minutes.

These rolls are, by far, the softest rolls I have ever made. They are the best with leftover Easter ham. Slice open one of these puppies, lay on a slice or two of honey glazed ham, maybe a slice of cheese or some butter on top. Tough to beat. Just for kicks, here's a short video to show just how soft these things are.

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