1. Combine all of the ingredients except the raisins and nuts. Mix and knead them until you have a soft, smooth dough. Toward the end of the kneading time, mix in the raisins and nuts.
  2. Cover and allow the dough to rise until it's puffy and nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 1/2 hours.
  3. Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into an 8" log. Place it in the prepared pan, cover with greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until it crowns 1" above the rim of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes. Near the end of the bread's rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Uncover and bake the bread for about 45 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes. When the center of the bread reads 190°F on a digital thermometer, remove it from the oven and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Brush the top with melted butter, if desired. This will keep the crust soft. Cool completely before slicing.
  5. Store cooled bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.