It was my turn to make a cake for the Evolutionary Biology department’s Wednesday Cake Day, and as there are many a non-Briton in the department I thought I’d do something very English – a tea loaf. Tea loaves are great for several reasons; they taste nice and are lovely and moist, you can make them in advance (in fact they taste nicer if you do leave them); you put butter on the sliced loaf, and they are very easy to make. This one is particularly easy as there is no creaming of butter or anything like that to do.
First, sieve 8 ounces of self-raising flour, ¾ level teaspoon of mixed spice, ½ a teaspoon of salt and 4 ounces of caster sugar into a mixing bowl. Chop 4 ounces of butter into small pieces and add it to the flour along with one tablespoon of honey, 4 ounces of sultanas, 3 ounces of glace cherries, 3 ounces of blanched almonds or walnuts (or a mixture). Now the wet ingredients: 1 pound of mashed ripe bananas, 2 eggs and the juice of a lemon. Once mixed together nicely, turn the mixture out into a buttered 9 inch loaf tin and bake of an hour at 180ºC and then half an hour at 160ºC. Allow to cool on a wire rack and store in an air-tight container.
#118 Banana Tea Loaf – 8.5/10. Marvellous! This is quite a hefty tea loaf and I didn’t think our wee group would get through it, but we made light work of it. The addition of the cherries and nuts made it a little Seventies-looking and I thought would make it overly rich, but it wasn’t the case. Very, very good – thinking about when I’ll make the next one!
The third bit of stodge I made for the little gathering at mine for my birthday. Tea loaves are great and very Yorkshire, but I’d not made one before – it’s extremely easy, in fact, if you’ve never baked or have some terrible affliction, like feet for hands or something, then you should try this. People don’t eat this kind of stuff any more, so many don’t like dried fruit for some reason. They are better left in an air tight container for a few days before scoffing (if you can last that long – I couldn’t). Always serve your tea loaf with butter spread generously over it, or as they do in Yorkshire – though non-Yorkshire folk never seem to believe me – a slice of cheese. Sorry for the shit picture, folks.
To produce a squidgy ingot of loveliness of your own, start off by mixing 12 ounces of mixed fruit with 4 ounces of dark brown sugar. I like the soft, moist molasses sugar that you get in boxes best. Pour over half a pint of strained, well-stewed Indian tea, I used Assam. Leave this mixture overnight, so that the syrupy tea is absorbed by the fruit. Next day, mix in 8 ounces of self-raising flour and an egg. Pour the mixture into a lined 9 inch loaf tin and bake for one hour at 180°C, then down the temperature down to 160°C for a final half hour. Like all baking check with a larding needle or a knife toward the end of cooking, in case of funny temperatures in weird ovens like my fan one.
#63 Fruit Tea Loaf – 9/10. Cheap and easy and delicious! I also seem to have converted people who don’t like raisins with this one. The molasses sugar and the tea make the cake moist and rich. A perfect little gem of a cake.