Apricot & Date Tea Loaf

Tea Loaf

Let’s talk tea loaf. For the uninitiated, a tea loaf is a fabulously moist tea cake that gets its moisture, not from fat, but from beautifully, fragrant tea. In this case orange scented, Earl Grey tea.

Apricots

For me, tea loaf is reminiscent of one of my favourite childhood treats, malt loaf, (only without the malt, obvs!). Every Sunday evening of my childhood, almost without fail, dessert consisted of a marvellous, chunky slice of malt loaf with a delicate spreading of margarine.

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Yeah, yeah, I know, margarine ewww. But in my defence we were a fairly low fat household and I didn’t know any better! Besides the marg was there more as an extra layer of moisture than for flavour. I’m not ashamed people!

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This cake, however, is so amazingly moist and sticky that you absolutely don’t need any extra butter (or marg!) on it. Although I just couldn’t resist! The moisture comes from the fact that the dried fruit is soaked, overnight, in warm tea. By the morning the fruit has doubled in size and is wonderfully sweet and juicy.

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The softened fruit also makes this the ideal cake for all those fruit cake haters out there. I promise that they will barely even notice that there’s any dried fruit in there!

Its other advantage is how incredibly simple it is to make. Hardly any ingredients and made in one bowl, what more could you ask for?

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Apricot & Date Tea Loaf

Ingredients:

150g dried apricots
130g dates
300ml strong hot earl grey tea
340g self raising flour
110g granulated sugar
1 heaped teaspoon ground allspice (or a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon is also lovely)
1 beaten egg

Make the tea using 2 teabags and leave it to cool slightly. Chop each of the apricots and dates into around 3 pieces and put them all in a large mixing bowl.  Once the tea is lukewarm, pour it over the fruit, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan oven / 350 F and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Add all the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl, stir well to combine and pop it into the baking tin, smoothing the top.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer can be inserted into the middle of the cake and is clean when removed.

Serve with or without butter, but definitely with a lovely cup of tea!

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Peach Iced White Tea

Peach iced tea

Bubble tea. I absolutely luuurve bubble tea. I’ve only actually had it 3 times but that’s enough to fall in love, right? Right?? Fruity iced tea with crazy, chewy tapioca balls in the bottom that shoot up the straw when you least expect it. Oh my goodness!

OK so I’m probably massively behind the curve here and hugely uncool, but I don’t care, deal with it people.

Tea bags

Whilst I would love to recreate the bubble tea experience at home, I feel that would ruin it for me. It’s supposed to be a weird treat on a Sunday afternoon stroll and my straws are way too small. Besides, it’s probably not a good idea to ingest that many e-numbers and that much processed sugar on a regular basis.

However, everyone needs a go to recipe for iced tea. It has to be one of the most refreshing drinks out there and the addition of peaches, just pushes it over the edge into utter awesomeness (real word? Not sure I care…)

Peach Iced Tea 2

We’re in a Choose Your Own Adventure situation here people. (Or we would be, if they wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure book about how you like your tea. I doubt they did, that would probably be a tad dry for your average 10 year old. I’d probably read it though.)

Like your tea a little stronger? Sub your favourite black tea bags for the white tea. Got an insanely sweet tooth? Double (no, triple!) the sugar. Want it to be super peachy? Puree the peaches into the tea once it’s cooled or whack in some peach juice. Don’t even like peaches? Don’t put them in. Duh.

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It’s basically majorly customisable and incredibly easy to whip up on a hot summers day. (Not that we have those in England, but we can put the heating on and parade around in a summer dress and sunglasses whenever we like.) You can even pop a little booze in there if you’re feeling cheeky. I’m thinking bourbon….in keeping with the Southern American theme. Do it, you know you want to. Sorry, did that come across a little too ‘pusher’?

Peach Iced Tea 4

Peach Iced White Tea
This version isn’t hugely sweet, as that’s my preference, but you can add more sugar to taste.

Ingredients:

2 ripe peaches
4 bags of white tea
1/2 cup of caster sugar

Slice the peaches and put them in a large jug or pitcher. Throw in the tea bags and pore over 4 cups of boiling water.

Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes and then immediately remove the tea bags. If you leave them for too long the tannins will start making the tea bitter.

Add the sugar and give it a good stir until it’s all dissolved. Add 4 cups of cold water and leave the whole lot to cool. You can take the peaches out once it’s cool if you want, but I don’t think it’s really necessary.

Once cool it’s ready to go. Serve it over plenty of ice,with a slug of bourbon if you fancy it, and a few of the peaches on top.

Pop any leftovers in the fridge, I found that it was still lovely the next day. Enjoy!