Monday, 12 June 2017

Fruity Tea Loaf

Have you ever baked something that came out of the oven perfect and tasted divine, to then lose the recipe and never be able to bake it again? Yeah. That’s what happened to me with this fruity tea loaf. I can’t remember where I found this recipe on the internet but whoever originally posted this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart because it is the best tea loaf I have ever had the pleasure to bake and eat. Luckily, I found the recipe recently on a scrappy piece of paper hidden among a collection of random stuff in our kitchen. There was no title on the page, just a simple list of ingredients and vague instructions. The best kind of kitchen mystery!

So without further ado, here is an essential tea loaf recipe...

First thing to note is this recipe uses the American cup system, something I have struggled with over the years. I just have not been able to comprehend how the Americans can rely on cup measurements when cups vary in size! Grams and ounces just feels a lot more reassuring to the baker who craves specificity to avoid cake failures. Anyway, I let my own measurement anxieties go and chose a mug with which I would measure all my ingredients. My advice would be, it is a mug you need, not a cup. If it feels too dainty, it is not a mug. This is what I used for my 'cup':


1 cup water infused with a tea back (just normal English breakfast style please)
4 cups sultanas
1 cup caster sugar
¾ cup butter (cut butter into cubes to get an accurate measurement)
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten


1)      Preheat the oven to 150°C/ 300 F/ Gas Mark 2. Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin with baking paper or a made to fit paper case.

2)      Heat the black tea, sultanas, sugar and butter in a large saucepan. Bring this mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

3)      Meanwhile, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice into a wide mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Throw in the beaten eggs and quickly stir everything together to avoid the heat of the liquid cooking the eggs.

4)      Once everything is well combined spoon the cake mixture into the loaf tin and even the top with the back of a spoon. Place on the middle shelf in the oven for 1 hour 30-50 minutes. After 1 hour place foil over the top of the cake to prevent it burning. At the 1 hour 30 minutes mark, test the cake with a knife or skewer. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is baked, however if some batter remains on the skewer leave the cake in a bit longer. Once baked, allow the cake to cool in the loaf tin.

5)      Slice into generous slices and serve with a nice cup of tea. This loaf cake is nice with a spreading of butter.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chocolate Chip Madeleines

Today marked a special occasion: the day I went back to baking for the first time in… well a long time for me. I’ve been so busy with my Master’s degree that, unfortunately, baking has fallen to the wayside. But today I finished an assignment and didn’t quite fancy going back to my other studying so I thought today was the day that I got cracking the eggs into my mixing bowl again. So, what did I bake I hear you say? Well I’ve had a madeleine tray in the cupboard for a long time so I thought I’d dust that off!
Being as it was actually my first time making madeleines, I used Michel Roux Jr’s recipe, however replaced his preferred lemon flavour with vanilla and chocolate chips.
Oh and another thing… just as I was melting my butter I found out (much to my Angel delight) that the battery on the scales was completely gone. I was forced to guestimate with tablespoons instead. Luckily everything turned out smoothly (or springy to the touch and light as you will soon find out).

Before you go any further, make sure you have a madeleine tray!

Here's my version of  Michel Roux Jr's madeleines, complete with tablespoon measurements: 

100g caster sugar (8 level tablespoons)
100g butter, melted (use the measurements on the block to help you)
100g plain flour (8 level tablespoons)
2 eggs
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g chocolate chips (either pick one type or mix ‘n’ match)
-1 tablespoon extra melted butter and plain flour for dusting the madeleine tray.
-icing sugar to decorate


1)      Melt the extra tablespoon of butter and brush around a madeleine tray with a pastry brush. Sieve a couple of tablespoons of flour over the madeleine tray and tap off any excess.

2)      Preheat the oven to Gas 6/ 200°C/ 400F. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together in a mixing bowl until frothy and slightly thickened. Sieve in the flour and baking powder, and add the vanilla extract and melted butter. Fold everything together gently with a spatula and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

3)      Stir through the batter once more and carefully fill the holes in the madeleine tray. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the top of each madeleine and push in slightly with your finger. Bake the madeleines on the middle shelf of the oven for 8-10 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.

4)      Once baked, leave the madeleines to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully taking them out of the tray and placing on a cooling rack. You may need to trim the edges of the madeleines before you take them out if you overfilled the tray like I did! (Note: don’t overfill the madeleine tray because batter rises in the oven…)

5)      Once cooled, dust the these cute little French cakes with a dash of icing sugar and enjoy with a  cup of tea or coffee.