Cinnamon, walnut and raisin roll

A traditional eastern European brioche, from Karaway Bakery

In the area of eastern Europe from which Karaway Bakery director Nadia Gencas hails, they enjoy their cinnamon rolls with a glass of milk: unfurling the bronzed, buttery whorls of brioche pastry and dunking them in its cool creaminess. Upon contact, the rusty dustings of cinnamon fan out across the surface of the milk, which soaks up into the fragrant, walnut-and-raisin studded dough in return.

The result is pure synergy: of stretch and squidginess, spice and subtlety, crunch and cream. It’s worth the effort, that is if, buying from the stall on a frosty November morning, you manage to wait that long. 

We didn’t. With its aroma of cinnamon warming our noses, its raisins winking like eyes out from their sweet scarf of dough, the bun could not last much longer than the few seconds it took to pull it out of its bag. In our icy hands, we could feel the comforting heat of the oven still lingering around the sides.

A family bakery
“Everything is baked overnight,” says Nadia. “We source most fresh ingredients locally: milk, butter, wheat flour.” Cinnamon, sadly, is not a British product—but then neither is Karaway, a family bakery steeped in 120 years of Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian tradition.

There, as here, baking is a sign of welcome, friendship and heritage. “This flavour combination is popular and perfect for this time of year,” she continues. Those too old (or intolerant) for milk will find tea and coffee reliable dunking grounds; those like us, whose willpower wilts at the sight of caramelised walnuts, plump raisins and spices wrapped up in brioche, will, from experience, survive very well without.