There are plenty of young people who don't like tea but love Tea Loaf!
You would be mistaken for thinking that this is a cake such is its sweet, fruity taste but it doesn't have any butter in it at all which also means that it can keep for longer. It's more like a very tasty currant loaf with a fantastic light brown colour. But is it bread then? It has no yeast although it can be made with self-raising flour. In this recipe we use plain flour and baking powder. What is unusual about tea loaf is that one of the ingredients is, er, tea and the dried fruit is steeped in it for several hours to plump it up and to add to the fabulous spicy flavour.
Traditionally made with standard black tea it would be a pity not to take advantage of the wonderful array of flavoured varieties that are available in most supermarkets, including Earl Grey and Lady Grey to name but two. This is another reason why we love tea loaf so much - so many alternative ingredients can be used. Cinnamon or nutmeg can be used instead of mixed spice or make up your own mixture. One other plus is that it can be eaten not only for tea but how about breakfast? Throw a few chopped nuts in the mix and it would start to become a sort of muesli bread with wheat instead of oats. Instead of, or in addition to, sultanas, raisins and currants try dried apricots, figs, dates, cranberries, glace cherries or crystallised ginger.
Enough for four greedy people
250g currants, raisins, sultanas • Zest of 1 orange or 50g candied citrus peel
250ml hot strong tea - English breakfast or Earl Grey both work well
1 large egg, lightly beaten • 250g plain flour • 230g light soft brown sugar
5 tsp mixed spice • 15g baking powder • butter for greasing and to spread
Put the currants, raisins and sultanas in a large bowl and pour the hot tea over. Leave to infuse for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4 and grease a 900g loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Add the orange zest / peel, egg, flour, sugar, spice and baking powder to the bowl and mix well until all the flour and sugar is absorbed and you have a sticky lump. Spoon into the tin. All of it. Don't leave any in the bowl for chef's privilege. It's much better cooked. Oh go on then, just a bit.
Bake in the lower half of the oven for 90 minutes or until firm to the touch. Leave to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Cut and serve with plenty of butter.
Once cooled, place in an airtight container where it will last for up to a week. In our humble opinion, the flavour improves after a couple of days. But with children around it probably won't see the end of the first day.
Do you have a favourite recipe that you would like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include it in a future edition.
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