It’s January. Time for just a little indulgence.
Yes, I know that we’re all supposed to be on a hair-shirt-fun-free-detox-diet but on a dark, dreary school/work morning it’s no harm at all to have a little something that will lift the spirits.
This Cinnamon Raisin Bread, born from a love of the M&S Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, has become a staple at the cottage. Just a little sweeter than our normal loaf, with enough raisins to keep Little Missy interested, it fulfils a major breakfast bread requirement: it toasts beautifully, needing only a dab of salty butter to finish it off. That said, I have caught the Husband trowelling on a layer of my mother’s rich lemon curd but might be just a little step too far.
One of the other major advantages of the bread is the spicy, spirit-raising scent that fills the house as it is toasted. On days when the Small Girl has had an interesting night (teething at three-and-a-half months is no fun) and Little Missy has to be wrestled into her clothes for one of her two crèche mornings, it’s amazing what a slice of this bread, a mug of coffee and a little while gazing out the window, wool-gathering while watching the birds on their feeder, can do for the mood.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
I make this in my breadmaker – it’s easy to put together with one hand while holding a child in the other arm – but there’s absolutely no reason why you couldn’t make it by hand – instructions below.
We rarely eat plain white bread so I’ve used a mixture of flours in this recipe but feel free to use 450g of strong white flour if you can’t find granary bread flour or strong brown flour. Doves Farm do a Mixed Grain Malthouse Bread Flour that I pick up locally at Horan’s Health Store in Mitchelstown.
This is also good with other dried fruit and spices: I often use sultanas and our Christmas morning bread was a dried cranberry and mixed spice variation, especially good with the Green Saffron spice blend for A Winter’s Ale.
Milk – 300mls
Strong bread flour – 250g
Granary bread flour or strong brown flour – 200g
Ground cinnamon – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Brown sugar – 2 tablespoons
Butter – 25g
Dried yeast – 1½ teaspoons
Raisins – 140g
Bread machine method: place the ingredients, apart from the raisins, in your machine in the order specified – for me, it’s liquids first, then dry ingredients, as above. Choose the sweet bread setting. When it beeps, add the raisins, and let it work away.
Hand method: for this, your milk needs to be warm – heat it in a pan or the microwave, add the butter so that it melts, and allow the mixture to cool room temperature. Put the flours into a large bowl, add the cinnamon, salt, brown sugar and yeast and whisk to combine. Make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the warm milk and melted butter, then mix well together.
Allow dough to rest for five minutes, then turn out onto floured worktop and knead until smooth and springy. Press out into a large rectangle, sprinkle over the raisins and knead briefly to distribute the dried fruit. Place back into the cleaned bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or some oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size. (Depending on how warm your house is, this can take much longer. A cosy hot press can help matters but don’t forget that the dough is there!)
Butter a 900g loaf tin. Turn the risen dough out on to a floured surface and pat into a rectangle. Roll up tightly and place, seam side down, into the tin. Cover again with your damp tea towel/oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place again until doubled in size. Again, this will take approximately an hour.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (180°C fanbake), slash the loaf down the centre with a sharp knife and brush it with water. Bake for 35-40 minutes until brown and well risen. Check if the loaf is cooked by turning it out of the tin and tapping the base with your knuckles. It should sound hollow. If not, place back in the oven without the tin for another few minutes.
Allow to cool out of its tin on a wire rack. Slicing is easiest when it is cold but irresistible when warm.
Makes 1 loaf.