Morning baking: Cinnamon raisin bread

I am not a morning person. This will come as a surprise to no one who knows me well. Me and the process of waking up just do not get along. This is partly down to the fact that I’ve had lifelong sleep issues. My mum loves to tell the story of how, as a little baby, my dad would rock me and rock me… and rock me… and rock me to sleep in the evenings, until he would think I was finally asleep and then – up! – my little head would pop. So he would start rocking and rocking and rocking some more.

This insomnia lasted throughout childhood, though by some miracle I’ve managed to mostly overcome it as an adult. Still, sometimes I get into patterns where sleep deserts me once more. Recently I’ve been in one of these patterns. Sleep just won’t come. Sometimes for hours. I fidget, I toss, I turn, I throw off covers because I’m too hot and I curse my new memory foam mattress, which I have since learned from my sister are notoriously prone to overheat. While doing all this, I try not to disturb Edward too much.

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All this can make it difficult to get up in the morning. And when I do finally manage to drag my butt out of bed, my head is fuzzy and I do stupid things. Like knock over my Melitta coffee cone while it is full of brewing coffee and have to spend ten minutes cleaning up a sludgy brown mess. Or drop said coffee cone on the floor and break off the handle. (Don’t worry Mum, it still works perfectly!) So let’s just say that my early mornings aren’t all that productive at the moment.

With that being the case, I’m somewhat astonished that I managed to – gasp! – complete a baking project a few mornings ago. I had bought all the ingredients for a cinnamon raisin loaf some time before, but hadn’t gotten around to making it. But this particular morning dawned bright and cold and crisp, and once my coffee was poured (from the handleless filter cone, natch) I decided to embark on bread baking. Thus passed a very pleasant, fragrant, cinnamony morning, during which I knocked nothing over.

This loaf makes fabulous toast, by the way. Perfect for mornings, whether you like ’em or not.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp milk
1/3 cups white sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Warm the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave, until it just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

Add the warm water to a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and set aside until it dissolves, about 5 minutes. Mix in the egg, sugar, butter, salt and raisins, then slowly stir in the cooled milk. Now stir in the flour gradually to make a stiff dough, bringing it together with a wooden spoon or your hands, if that is easier. Once you have a mass of dough, lightly flour a surface and knead for several minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and turn it to grease the dough evenly. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise until doubled, usually about 1 1/2 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle about half an inch thick. Moisten the dough with 1 Tbsp milk and rub it all over the dough with your hands. Now mix together 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp of cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture evenly on top.

From the long end, roll the dough into a coil. Tuck the ends under and pinch them together underneath the loaf.

Place the loaf in a standard sized loaf pan and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Meanwhile set the oven to 350 F / 180C. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and the underneath sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before turning out. Allow to cool before slicing.