Friday, 25 July 2014

Tea Loaf...

As of late I have been residing with my lovely Grandparents during my search for a part-time job. After being here on and off for a good 3-4 weeks now I thought I should do something to show my appreciation. They haven’t asked for rent (yet!) but the second best thing, I thought, would be to bake them something. So that’s what I did. One of my Grandad’s favourite types of cake is a fruit cake or something of that variety so I thought I’d make a tea loaf, having the fancy for one myself!
With all the glamorous glitter dusted cupcakes and fusion flavoured brownies available nowadays, I think we sometimes forget about the simple homely flavours of a fruit loaf. It’s sweet, light and more filling than a biscuit. AND you even have the added extra of having butter on top of it or not. I suppose some people would say it’s a bit common to have butter on your tea loaf. But sod it, if you can add something to make it taste even more indulgent why not?
This was a typical situation in which I remembered having a really good recipe for such a baked good years ago. However I have since lost the tattered piece of paper on which I wrote the random recipe. So I did what all good modern people do and googled it, finding this recipe from womanandhome.com. I followed this recipe, except I added glacĂ© cherries and missed out the nutmeg (didn’t have any) too. The recipe also specified sultanas and currants as two separate ingredients. To make shopping easier, I just bought a bag of mixed fruit to cover both.
The good thing about a tea loaf is that, it’s so simple to put together- you cannot go wrong. However I cannot control how the batter reacts in the oven (hence the slightly deformed blob on the side of the loaf!) But who cares right? It's homemade after all... 

So here’s the recipe:
500g/18oz dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel etc)
250g/9oz caster sugar
375ml/ 13fl oz cold tea
1 large egg
500g/ 1lb 2oz self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
50g/ 2oz glacé cherries (cut in halves)

1) Soak the mixed fruit and the sugar in the cold tea. For better absorption of the tea flavour, it is advised to soak the fruit overnight. I only soaked them for half an hour and it tasted just fine- you can make up your own mind how serious you want to get about your loaf ;).
2) Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/ 350 F/ Gas 4 and line a 2lb/ 900g loaf tin with baking paper. Add the egg to the mixed fruit and mix in well. Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl and mix the batter until well blended. Add the halved cherries and fold through the mixture.
3) Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour- 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a knife/skewer inserted comes out clean. Check the cake every 20-30 minutes to check if it’s browning too quickly on top (admittedly mine did). Leave to cool before slicing. Serve on its own or spread with a dash of butter. Perfect with a cup of tea!