English Tea Loaf

From the same people that invented tea cakes, tea time and high tea: the Tea Loaf. It honestly deserves the capitals, because this kind of cake is right down my isle. I can't see why it shouldn't be down anyone elses. It's got raisins and spice and it calls for tea and a moment of relaxing. It calls for lazy weekends too. It also screams of a moment of happiness during busy weekdays. (YESS!!)

The tea loaf is a traditional British spicy fruit cake. The key to this cake is the currants and raisins that are soaked in tea overnight. The tea flavour really adds character to this cake. Another reason it's called a tea loaf is because it's best served with tea. A good cup of Yorkshire tea - with milk, save the sugar for coffee.

Afternoon tea: the British afternoon tea is a light meal that is served around 4-6 in the evening, between lunch and dinner. There are different kinds of afternoon teas, but they all include a cup of tea and something along the line of sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries and/or cookies. Nowadays it's most likely going to be a mug of black tea (with a splash of milk) and a biscuit.
Obviously not to be confused with second breakfast, elevenses, brunch, luncheon, supper or the British tea-time. 

Fun fact: high tea was originally nothing like the high tea we serve today. It wasn't even an upper class thing. The upper classes served afternoon tea or 'low tea' around 4 o'clock, after which they'd go for a fashionable walk in the park. The lower classes would serve a 'high tea' later in the day- around 5 to 6 o'clock. The names actually come from the height of the tables they were served on. The 'low tea' was served on side tables in the drawing room. 'High tea' was served on the dinner table in stead of a late dinner.

Tea Loaf
makes 1 cake - inspired by Goodtoknow, Nigella, and A Quiet Corner

1 cup strong black tea *
200 grams dried fruits **
200 grams flour
1,5 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
100 grams light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tb marmelade

1. Soak the fruits in the tea for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 160°C or 320°F.
2. Sift the flour together with the baking powder, mixed spice and sugar.
3. Add te egg, marmelade and the fruits to the flour and mix until you have an evenly consistent, thick batter. Add a bit of tea or milk if your batter is too thick to stir.
4. Line or grease a cake-tin and pour the batter into the tin. Bake the cake in a preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until dark golden brown on top, or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Enjoy warm or cold, with or without butter!

* English breakfast teas, such as Yorkshire tea, work best here. An Earl Grey or other strong black tea would work too.
** Think of currants, sultanas and raisins. Some tea loafs also include glacĂ© cherries and candied peel. A happy note: you can always add more of whatever you like! 

I had some nice English weather when I was taking pictures. I actually cut a few extra pieces just to enjoy while taking pictures. I was surprised how well it works with butter. In Holland we have a similar cake, or a few of them, but none of them are served with butter. Any Dutch person would question your sanity if you were to so much as think of suggesting it. The British though, have got your back on this!

As an experienced raisin-lover, I have to conclude this cake needs more raisins. Luckily that is totally an option. At some point in the near future I'll be testing how much raisins this recipe can handle. I'm already looking forward to tasting the fruits of my efforts.

If you like tea...
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