I remember the first time I had a slice of tea loaf cake, I thought it was rich and dense, almost like a healthy version of a fruit cake. I was fascinated by the fact it actually had tea in it, I thought whoever came up with the idea was a genius. An actual cup of tea in a cake made me think the sky was the limit: Earl Grey, spicy chai and breakfast tea versions came to my mind. Tea loaf cake isn’t very sweet, the sweetness really comes mainly from the sultanas, it’s dense and moist, just how you want it to be. The key to this loaf cake is soaking the fruit, ideally overnight, and having the patience to bake it for a good hour. For a subtle spice kick to it, I added some star aniseeds to the tea, and mixed spice and orange peel to the batter. Slice it and either eat it as it comes, or toast it and butter it for a tasty and alternative breakfast option.
50g cherries, chopped
225ml hot black tea
225g self-raising flour
100g light brown sugar
3 star aniseed
1. Place the sultanas and cherries in a bowl and pour in the hot black tea, adding a few star aniseeds. Cover with cling film and leave it soaking for a couple of hours, or better still overnight.
2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 2lb loaf tin. Whisk together the butter and sugar until creamy, then beat in the egg, orange zest and mixed spice. Fold in the flour. Remove the star aniseed from the fruit and tea, then carefully fold into the egg and flour mixture. Spoon the mixture into the tin, then smooth over the surface with the back of a spoon.
3. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out, cut into slices and serve.