I drink a lot of tea. I consider it to be a normal amount, but it’s probably well above average for my little corner of suburban Massachusetts. Perfectly normal for Northern Ireland though. And tea features in my baking this week. This is a recipe for Tea Loaf. A simple, straightforward bake that requires very little hands-on time.
Ideally, you should soak the fruit overnight, but I won’t judge you if you only have time to let it soak for a few hours. Ideally, the loaf is best left for a day before you eat it, but I won’t judge you if you can’t wait and want to slice into it as soon as it’s (almost) cool.
Other than that, you mix the ingredients, spoon into a tin and bake. Then, slather it liberally in butter and demolish. With a cup of tea, of course.
This Tea Loaf really is that simple to bake. So, I have very little baking advice for you. Use a strong black tea to soak the fruit. Regular breakfast tea or Earl Grey both work well for Tea Loaf. You can use any mix of dried fruit that you prefer. I tend to use raisins and sultanas, because I usually have those in the house. You could use dates or prunes or cherries. Or any combination of these. If you’re using larger pieces of drive fruit just make sure to chop them to about the size of a raisin. When using something like raisins, you can leave them as they are.
If you don’t have self-raising flour, then use plain/all-purpose flour mixed with 2tsp of baking powder and a pinch of salt.
I bake this Tea Loaf in a small loaf tin. The dimensions of my tin are 21.6 x 11.4 x 6.35 cm or 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches. The slightly unusual conversion on the metric measurements is because this is a tin I bought here in the US, where imperial measurements are standard. But hopefully, my tin measurements help you to select the closest corresponding tin in your collection.
- 8 fl oz or 225ml hot tea
- 5 oz or 150g mixed, dried fruit
- 5 oz or 150g dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
- 10 oz or 285g self-raising flour
- 1 egg beaten
The day before you plan to bake
- Place the sugar, spices and dried fruit in a bowl. I use a very generous teaspoon of each of the spices. Pour over the tea, mix well and leave to soak overnight.
On the day of baking
- Preheat your oven to 325F/160C for a conventional oven. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
- The next day, add the sifted flour and beaten egg to the fruit and tea.
- Mix well and spoon into a lined loaf tin.
- Bake at 325F/160C for approximately 60 minutes. I’d start check from about 50 minutes because all ovens are different. The tea loaf should be beautifully brown and if you insert a skewer it should come out clean.
- At this point, leave the loaf to cool in the tin. You can also brush the top of the loaf with honey or maple syrup, which gives it a lovely glossy shine.
- If you can wait, leave until the next day before using. Slice and butter liberally!