Having spent a significant part of the afternoon ogling over recipes for biscuits, muffins, cakes and bread I had the baking bug. Not for something sweet and sticky (my eldest had made coffee cake the night before which had taken care of that) but for something spicy, aromatic and warming.
The desire for a cake that would warm me from within may have stemmed from the fact that outside it’s cold, REALLY cold. If you stand at the window and look outside it seems like a pleasant spring day. Not sunny, but with an almost visible warmth in the air; so welcome after the long, cold, damp winter. The clouds are high and there’s only the lightest breeze.
The urge to feel the warmth of spring fogs the brain, and you begin to dash to and from your car fooling yourself that you won’t get cold as you do so. I’ve managed this successfully once or twice so far this year, but today I miscalculated and boy was it cold. By the time I got in the car I was chilled through. I was only just beginning to warm up as I arrived home again, having dropped my daughter off, and had to make the dash back into the house. So this coupled with my afternoon of recipe overindulgence came together; the desire for a warming, fruited and lightly spiced tea loaf was born in my mind.
The only problem is, I have gone ‘tea free’ since making my last tea loaf. It has taken me many, many years to realise that tea does strange things to my digestive system. Life without it is soooooo much more pleasant.
Green tea contains many of the same compounds as regular tea so changing to that was not an option. However, camomile tea doesn’t, and it’s become my main hot drink. In fact I would go as far as to say that I strongly dislike regular tea now; even if it no longer affected me badly I would not go back to it.
So, here is my Camomile Tea Loaf…
I’ve made it with regular tea before and both turn out really well so don’t think that you have to stick to using camomile. However, if camomile is your tea of choice make sure you make it good and strong, as it is naturally weaker than a regular brew.
You can soak the raisins for much longer than half an hour if you wish. I’ve even been known to leave them soaking in the fridge overnight (Dan actually prefers it this way as the raisins become less chewy and therefore less obvious in the finished loaf), just make sure that you have a moist enough mixture if you do soak the raisins longer. In the past I have added up to 180ml more tea than the recipe states because my raisins had soaked up so much of it: you’re aiming for soft dropping consistency. Incidentally, this recipe only takes 10 minutes to pull together – 30 minutes of the 40 minute prep time accounts for the soaking of the raisins.
One of the great things about this cake is that it is so low in fat. As a result I often make it to eat for breakfast. This year I took a loaf with us when we went camping in Wales. It, along with a hot cup of tea, staved off the cold and helped to drive the morning damp from my clothes. Well maybe not, but it did help me to mind it less!
Camomile Tea Loaf
- 200 g raisins
- 300 ml strong hot tea
- 170 g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 170 g white self-raising flour
- 110 g light brown soft sugar
- 1½ teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 large egg beaten
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Flour the sides.
- Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.
- Soak the raisins in the hot tea for at least half an hour.
- Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the raisins, tea and egg and mix well being careful not to overmix. Add extra tea if necessary until the cake batter is soft dropping consistency (see above).
- Pour into your loaf tin and cook in the centre of the oven for one hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Turn onto a cooling rack, leave to cool then store in an air tight container.
You can halve this recipe and use a 1lb loaf tin if you wish. You will need to reduce the cooking time by 10-15 minutes.