Fig, orange and star anise tealoaf

Fig, orange and star anise tealoaf After some weird is-it-or-isn’t-it to-ing and fro-ing with the weather, it’s definitely autumn now – which means it’s time to bake with lots of spices and dried fruit! I decided to make this fig, orange and star anise tealoaf from Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb recipe book a few days ago. It’s her favourite recipe in the book – and I can certainly see why.

This is very much a tealoaf as opposed to a cake – there’s no butter in the recipe, only milk, but the lovely dried figs do much to add some moisture to the loaf. The other magic ingredients are orange zest and star anise. I don’t think I’ve ever baked with star anise before – I only have it in the house because it’s goes well in certain Indian curries – but it really is the star of the show with its warming aniseed flavour.

Fig, orange and star anise tealoaf
The tealoaf was very straightforward to make, and even baked in the time specified in the recipe (praise be!). It rose a lot more than I was expecting it to, mainly because I have a history of making loaf-shaped things that refuse to rise. All in all, this was a bit of a miracle already, and I hadn’t even tasted it yet by that point.

I made this after work on Wednesday night, so I pulled it out of the oven *just* in time for GBBO. We had slices of the tealoaf warm with lashings of butter on top, which is just the perfect way to have it! There’s still some left, so I’ve been toasting and buttering slices of it as it gets a little staler.

Fig, orange and star anise tealoaf
The flavours are amazing – I prefer dried figs to fresh, so I loved them anyway, but the slight tang of orange zest and that beautiful star anise really help this tealoaf to shine. I would thoroughly recommend this recipe if you fancy baking something autumnal in the coming months.

Fig, orange and star anise tealoaf
As I said, the recipe is in Ruby’s excellent cookbook, but you can also find it online here.

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Spiced honey tea loaf

Spiced honey tea loafAfter a few weeks of making lots of little things, I fancied baking something nice and large last weekend. After flicking through some recipe books, I settled on this rather lovely spiced honey tea loaf from Luis Troyano’s Bake It Great.

It’s incredibly easy to make – if you remember to soak the dried fruit in the tea and honey the night before! I ended up soaking it for around 6 hours during the day, and this seemed to be just about long enough, as I could taste the tea in the fruit when I had a warm slice just after removing the tea loaf from the oven.

Spiced honey tea loaf
The recipe calls for the fruit to be soaked in Lady Grey, but as my teabags were looking a bit old, I used loose leaf Earl Grey instead. For the fruit itself, I used raisins, chopped prunes and dried cranberries. Once most of the tea and honey has been soaked up, all you have to do is add some flour, an egg and mixed spice before tipping the lot into a loaf tin and baking. Once it’s out of the oven, glaze the top with some more honey.

Note that there’s no butter in this recipe, making it more like a loaf of bread than a loaf cake!

Spiced honey tea loaf
I was a bit concerned that my tea loaf didn’t seem to rise very much, but it was definitely cooked in the middle, so I was happy. I had my first slice with butter and it was LOVELY. Luis also suggests trying some with cheddar and chutney (like you might with a fruitcake), but it was good enough with butter for me!

Spiced honey tea loaf
Unfortunately, the recipe doesn’t seem to be online anywhere for me to link to, but it’s well worth buying Bake It Great anyway – there are so many fantastic recipes, and this one is actually in a chapter dedicated to honey! There’s also another section on Spanish baking with some intriguing-looking bakes. If that sounds like your cup of tea, consider making the investment.

First bake: banana, rum and raisin loaf

Banana, rum and raisin loafThere have have been a few more bananas going uneaten and therefore in a perfectly ripe state for baking with at work recently, so I took it upon myself to take some home and turn them into a piece of baked deliciousness a couple of weeks ago. The result was this rather sumptuous banana, rum and raisin loaf, which I sort of invented from this recipe.

Generally, it’s ideal to soak dried fruit overnight to make sure they properly soak up the flavours of the liquid. However, I only had time to soak the raisins in the rum for about half an hour! I don’t do very well at following soaking instructions (remember my rum and raisin biscuits?) but I usually manage to wing it as I can still taste the booze!

Banana, rum and raisin loaf mix

Banana, rum and raisin loaf mix

The rest of the loaf was very easy to make. I added a splash of rum to the mix (as I had some rum left over from soaking the raisins) but I’m not sure how much of a difference this made! However, the resulting loaf was lovely – soft, fruity and very definitely tasting of rum.

I would recommend this recipe if you have bananas to use up but would like to make something a little more grown-up than standard banana bread. The great thing is I couldn’t very well tip the leftover rum back into the bottle, so I mixed it with some ginger beer and lime juice for a refreshing drink. Waste not, want not!

Banana, rum and raisin loafThe recipe

Makes 10 slices

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 50g raisins
  • About 40-50ml rum (I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced)
  1. Soak the raisins in the rum in a covered bowl for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight. Drain and reserve the rum.
  2. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line the base and sides of a 2lb loaf tin.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, adding a splash of leftover rum if you want, then slowly add the eggs with a little flour. Fold in the remaining flour, raisins, baking powder and bananas.
  4. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Mix yourself a nice drink with the leftover rum while you wait. Cool the loaf in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

First bake: banana and walnut teabread

Banana and walnut teabreadA few days ago, I found myself in the same situation as the other week, where I had some rapidly ripening bananas to finish off one way or another. So, I had a flick through my trusty BBC Good Food book and found this recipe for banana and walnut teabread – not exactly a traditional Easter bake, but as my family doesn’t really ‘do’ Easter, that didn’t really matter!

Banana and walnut teabread mix

Banana and walnut teabread mix

As always, I had to slightly adapt the recipe according to what I actually had in. I didn’t have enough walnuts so only put two-thirds of what was required in the mix, and topped the teabread with chopped shelled pistachios instead of the remaining walnuts. I think it looks rather good this way, don’t you?

Banana and walnut teabread

There are walnuts in there, honest!

The mix was easy enough to knock up, but it seemed to take far longer to bake in the oven than the recipe suggests – around an hour and a half as opposed to 55 minutes. Still, it wasn’t burnt when I finally took it out, which was a very good sign!

Banana and walnut teabread
All in all, this is a delicious, moist teabread with the right balance of flavours – the savoury walnut threatens to overwhelm at first, but then the sweet banana and sugar kick in at *just* the right moment to provide a rather agreeable treat to have with your afternoon cup of tea.

The recipe

From BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes.

 

First bake: mincemeat and marzipan teabread

Mincemeat and marzipan teabread

 

I ended up baking three batches of mince pies with the mincemeat I made a few weeks ago, but still had lots left over! Which is a good job, as I’d been planning to bake this mincemeat and marzipan teabread for the office’s Christmas bake sale for a while.

I do like a good teabread, and this is no exception. It was really easy to throw together, although it did involve rubbing flour and butter together to make ‘breadcrumbs’, which always takes me ages!

Mincemeat and marzipan teabread mix

Mincemeat and marzipan teabread mix

The final mix, after adding all of the ingredients to the bowl, was fairly thick, and I had to push it right down into the corners of the tin to make sure it didn’t end up a funny shape like my spotted dog.

My teabread was done after the hour in the oven specified by the recipe, but my boyfriend made this a while ago and it took him far longer in his electric fan oven. Not sure why, as my oven’s a gas one so you would expect it to take longer in mine!

Mincemeat and marzipan teabread

 

The resulting teabread was delicious – not too dry, packed with fruity, boozy flavours and topped off with lovely moist bits where the marzipan cubes had melted during baking. I thought it seemed a bit flat considering there was self-raising flour in it, but looking at pictures on other blogs, this seems to be a normal size!

Mincemeat and marzipan teabread

 

The recipe recommends serving this in slices spread with butter. I didn’t get a chance to do this, but as it worked so well with the spotted dog, I would recommend doing the same if you ever make this particular teabread!

The recipe

From BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes and also available online here: http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/mincemeat-and-marzipan-teabread.html

Re-bake: sticky marmalade tealoaf

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

It was my turn for the charity baking at work this week. I wanted to continue putting my new loaf tin to good use, so I settled on this sticky marmalade tealoaf – a suitably warming treat for this cold weather.

The recipe is brilliant – lots of marmalade, lashings of ground ginger and some mixed spice, combined with light muscovado sugar and pecans. Yum yum yum! Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make – you just throw everything in a bowl, mix and bake, before slathering some more marmalade on top for the stickiness.

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

It baked in the time specified by the recipe, although the final texture was a bit more crumbly than the previous times I’ve baked this tealoaf. It was a slight struggle getting it to cut into neat slices – the pic below was the best of the lot!

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

 

I *think* it went down well in the office, although it can be hard to tell sometimes! The bit I tasted was perfect; moist, spicy, sweet, slightly bitter and – most importantly – sticky. It’s lovely while it’s still warm – just the thing to have when you’ve come in from the cold and want a cup of tea with something sugary.

The recipe

From BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes. What I think is the same recipe is available online here too – I would definitely recommend using pecan halves instead of mixed nuts, though.

 

First bake: spotted dog

Spotted dog

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I have been baking, promise! Here’s my first bit of evidence – spotted dog. This is basically a very simple fruit tealoaf from the bible that is BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes (I do use other books, honest). I’ve been meaning to bake it for a very long time, and finally got round to it last week.

I’ve never heard of a tealoaf being referred to as ‘spotted dog’, but I rather like the name. As you can see, the ‘spots’ come from mixed dried fruit, which is basically chucked in a bowl with the other ingredients and stirred for a bit before baking. There’s supposed to be some kneading, too, but my mix turned out a bit too wet for that.

Spotted dog mix

Spotted dog mix

It really was ridiculously easy to make. This is pretty much a cross between bread and cake, and I usually don’t do very well with bread (and with cake sometimes!), but this turned out perfectly. Well, it was a little lopsided when it came out of the tin, but that’s what I call ‘rustic’…

Spotted dog

As it turns out, spotted dog is delicious when sliced up, warmed through and spread with butter. Of course, a cup of tea is also a must. The tealoaf itself was a little denser than I expected, but not in an unpleasant way. It’s also surprisingly sweet considering that there isn’t much sugar in it, but that would be because of the dried fruit!

Buttered spotted dog

Buttered spotted dog, with a nice cup of tea

All in all, this is a lovely bake to try if you fancy something simple yet pleasing with your mid-morning/afternoon cup of tea. I might be tempted to add some gentle spicing to the mix next time – perhaps some ginger, mixed spice or cloves, maybe. But it’s pretty damn good as it is!

The recipe

From BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes and also available online here: http://insearchofafullstomach.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/spotted-dog.html