From My Mother’s Kitchen: Hot Raisin Bread
OTHER MOM-INSPIRED FAVORITES: Fried Noodles; Green Goddess Soup with Zucchini, Chard, and Cilantro; Seared Salmon with Green Sauce; Rich Chocolate Celebration Cake
My mom made us breakfast every single day while we were growing up, before we piled into the car and she dropped us off at school on her way to work. When I say I don’t understand people who don’t eat breakfast, I say this with the perspective of someone who ate scrambled eggs, pancakes, French toast, corn muffins, and hot raisin bread every morning, not just someone who ate, you know, a bowl of cereal. Later, in middle and high school, we did sometimes eat just cereal or yogurt and fruit, but even then there were occasions when we’d get the full breakfast treatment.
On one of these days late in high school, my mom made hot raisin bread. She took it out of the oven, I cut myself a wedge, and when I drove my fork down through the cinnamon-sugar crust on top into the biscuit-like interior, I remembered why this was always one of my favorites. It’s decadent in the way that Frosted Mini Wheats are decadent–a layer of sugar, in this case cinnamon-sugar and butter, bursts in your mouth, distinguishing the relative plainness of the inside. I was a junior or senior, and we had a field hockey game that afternoon against one of our rivals. The tradition was to dress up in funny outfits on game days, and I can only imagine what Phoebe and I and the rest of our teammates were wearing. Whether it was my breakfast or my outfit, I played one of my best games ever as forward, scoring a hat trick. Three goals. These days, that kind of athleticism feels like it belonged to another person completely.
Anyway, some other parent came up to my mom and was like, “What do you feed her for breakfast?!”
And my mom, I think, answered truthfully, “Well, it’s this dish called hot raisin bread.”
I wasn’t eating my Wheaties. I was eating my mom’s home-cooked food and apparently it did me better than that.
When I baked this recently, I ate it as an afternoon snack. The cinnamon-y scent filled my apartment. I cut a wedge, poured some some tea, and waited for something to happen. Sure I wasn’t playing hockey, but wouldn’t mom’s magic breakfast work in my Brooklyn apartment too? I did some work on the book, researched my summer vacation, and kept on waiting. And waiting. I haven’t found out yet if the Hat Trick Raisin Bread still makes me super athletic, but it definitely still tastes really good.
From my kitchen, where I’m wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Hot Raisin Bread
Makes 1 bread, serves 6-8