Start with the raisins the day before you want to bake the bread. Put them into a bowl, cover with the hot water and stir in the baking soda. Cover with plastic wrap and let set overnight.
This will give you nice, plump raisins. Be sure to save the liquid you soaked the raisins in, as it will be added to the recipe.
Grease the insides of two one-pound coffee cans with butter, margarine or Crisco and dust with flour. Use parchment paper and cut out two discs the size of the coffee cans and place these on the bottom of each can. Grease and flour the parchment paper as well.
Combine the raisins in the soda water with the sugar, oil, salt, flour, nuts, cinnamon and almond extract. Stir well to make a batter. Put this batter into the coffee cans and fill up to two-thirds full. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let set for 15 minutes. Remove from the cans and leave to cool to room temperature on wire racks.
Make an icing using confectioners’ sugar, a little lemon juice and a little water. Drizzle the icing over each loaf. Slice and serve for an enjoyable treat.
If you want to preserve the loaves for a while, don’t put the sugar icing on them and return the loaves to the cans. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for a long time, but are so good you won’t leave them there for very long.