This isn't really another Easter post, but how could I resist the daffodil? I suppose this also makes up for the lack of fruit in my Chocolate Simnel cake. Though I'm definitely not saying I regret changing the flavours - it was so yummy.
This Irish Tea Loaf was the very first cake I ever made by myself. I was 7 and I wanted the badge below for my Brownies sash - the cooking/tea one. I was so excited to have made something on my own. I used to help mum in the kitchen a lot but it's not quite the same. I have some rather fuzzy memories of handing bits out to parents at my Brownie group. We made some great things in Brownies like a traditional Simnel cake and our own elderflower cordial that we went out into the fields to harvest and then made in a big vat and many other things I've forgotten since.
I don't think I've made it more than once since, but the moment I bit into the first slice I instantly recognised the taste. It's quite distinctive and utterly addictive. I like fruit cake a lot, but I don't normally think of it as addictive. This loaf is.
I halved Delia's recipe to only make one loaf, took out the mixed peel and currants and swapped in more of the other fruit, changed demerara for soft brown and somehow screwed something up. When it came to make the cake, there wasn't nearly enough liquid. I'm fairly sure this is because my raisins/sultanas were pretty dried out and so soaked up more of the tea than expected. I had some cold tea sitting around (I have a bad habit of not finishing cups of tea) so I used some of that. It came out really nicely in the end and as a fruit cake didn't die for being a little chewier.
Also, doesn't this half eaten piece look like a dog's head with an open mouth? That's what mine looked like when they smelt the cake!
Irish Tea Bread(Adapted from Delia Smith's 'Ultimate Collection: Baking')
385g dried fruit (mix of sultanas, golden sultanas, raisins etc)
100g soft brown sugar
5 fl oz/135 ml hot tea such as Earl Grey
1 tbsp milk
225g self raising flour
The evening before you want to make the cake, measure out the dried fruit into a bowl. Make the tea and leave it to brew for slightly longer than normal. Then add the sugar to the tea and stir till dissolved. Pour over the fruit and leave to soak till the next day.
Preheat the oven to 170C/ 325F. Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes before chopping them into small chunks and leaving to cool. Beat the egg and milk together and pour over the fruits. Sift the flour over the top and add the toasted nuts. Give it a good mixing. If it's still dry and a tbsp or two of cold tea or milk. Put the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Take the loaf out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.