Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Friday, 8 February 2013

Tea and cake? Yes please! Masala Chai fruit tea loaf

Afternoon tea eh? All us Brits do it, Sat around about 4pm, with the best china out, little fancies and crustless sandwiches delicately placed on floral 'cake plates' and all is well with the world...
Well, it would be nice if it were like that but most of us are working ourselves into the ground at that point for employers who think it's fine to treat their employees with a shocking amount of disrespect, or else we're arguing with children who have just come home from school and are at once ravenous and rejoicing at slipping out from under the school's thumb for the last six hours. But, it's a great idea in principle. We should make time for cake. And tea. And here we have both, in the shape of a Masala Chai tea loaf which is really simple to make and tastes lovely. And it keeps well if you wrap it. Acually it's that richly fruity that I reckon you could pile a load of marzipan and royal icing on it and call it a Christmas cake if it were the twenty something of December and you had forgotten or couldn't be bothered starting to soak your currants sometime in October.
Anyway, this cake grew out of my total adoration of Tamasin Day Lewis' Earl Grey Fruit Tea Loaf which is in her book 'Supper for a Song'. I have made it many times with both Earl Grey (I had a lavender infused Earl Grey Twinings tea which was really nice) and Lapsang Souchong which made it fruity and smoky if that is at all possible. But it was my encounter with Masala Chai in Tesco (Yes, I know. Don't buy the burgers...) that got me thinking that it might be a heady and spicy twist on what was already a really nice cake. So, I tried it, and yes, it's nice! Not overly spicy and heady, but there's enough there to make it warming and different. And I like drinking Masala Chai now, in case you were wondering...
This is a very easy cake if you remember to soak your fruit preferably overnight or else for a good few hours before you start to make the cake. I think if you buy the best dried fruit that you can, then it does add to the texture of the cake, mainly because there is more of a selection of dried fruit rather than just currants. Not that I would ever dream of telling you what to do, but I bought 'luxury dried fruit' from Aldi to do this. It was £1.49 and it had alsorts in it, including dried pineapple and glace cherries. Bit of a bargain really, compared to what you could pay.
Masala Chai Fruit Tea Loaf, adapted from Tamasin Day Lewis' Earl Grey Fruit Tea Loaf in 'Supper for a Song'.
mkes a 900g loaf

400g mixed dried fruit (try to buy the best you can that gives a good variety of fruit)
120g dark muscovado or molasses sugar
300 ml hot strong masala chai tea (I used two tea bags and let it stew for about 10 minutes)
225g self-raising flour
1 large free range egg, beaten
Put the dried fruit and sugar in a bowl, pour over the hot tea and leave overnight if you can or for at least 6 hours before you start to make the cake.

Stir before you go to bed and again before you use.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c/Gas 4. Grease and line 1 x 900g loaf tin.

Sift the flour over the fruit in the bowl and add the beaten egg then fold everything in together.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour (A BIG NOTE: the first time I made this, I found that the top burnt before the middle was cooked because it was so dense, and the high sugar content might not have helped. My advice is, loosely cover the top with foil for the first 40 minutes of cooking and then take it off to allow the top to brown and cook. Keep checking for doneness but you might find it takes longer than an hour. Just be vigilant).

If the skewer comes out clean the loaf is cooked, though it may take up to another 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Cool in the tin on a wire rack before turning out. Wrap in greaseproof and foil and store in a sealed container, it keeps well for a couple of weeks. And eat a slice with a cup of tea. Often.


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