Jane Grigson’s Fruit Tea Loaf

Jane Grigson’s Fruit Tea Loaf

Fruit Tea Loaf

The variety of tea cakes and tea breads in Britain is enormous, a testament to their enduring popularity, and to the ritual of taking tea itself. However, traditional fruit cakes are quite unfashionable right now. They are often seen as something only favoured by ‘old people’. Quite a lot of people won’t even touch a cake if it has any sort of dried fruit in it. I’m not sure whether it is the dried fruit or just the texture of the cake. Often old fashioned cakes like this can be drier and perhaps that puts people off.

Fruit Tea Loaf

I think those picky people are missing out. A slice of buttered fruit cake with a cup of tea is one of the great pleasures of the British tea table. The recipe below is from Jane Grigson’s English Food and it is anything but dry. It is one of the best recipes for a fruit tea loaf I have come across. The closest thing I could compare it to would be a malt loaf, if not quite as gooey and sticky. However, this cake is incredibly moist and it lasts for ages. In fact it is even better after two or three days.

Fruit Tea Loaf

This fruit tea loaf is also very easy to make. You do need to soak the fruit in advance but the time required of you overall is minimal. Interestingly it is made without butter and only one egg so reading the recipe you might wonder if it is going to be dry. The moist nature of this fruit tea loaf comes from the soft and sticky dark brown sugar and the strong black Indian tea in which the fruit is soaked. Although don’t think for a minute you are going to get away without adding butter. The best way to enjoy this cake, as prescribed in the method, is spread generously with butter, and of course, with a hot cup of tea. Incidentally we took this fruit tea loaf on a camping trip recently and it stood up to the rough and tumble of a rucksack extremely well.

Fruit Tea Loaf - Ceylon Tea

Jane Grigson’s Fruit Tea Loaf


375g mixed dried fruit and peel (I used a mixture of sultanas and raisins, and no candied peel)

125g dark brown sugar

250ml strained, strong cold Indian tea (I used ceylon)

250g self-raising flour (or 250g plain flour, plus 2 1/2 tsp baking powder)

1 large egg


Stir together the dried fruit, sugar and tea. Cover with a plate and leave overnight. The next day beat in the flour and egg. Bake in a lined 22cm (9”) loaf tin for 1 hour at 170˚C (fan assisted), then for a further 10 to 20 minutes at 160˚C. I would check i it after 1 hour. Serve thinly sliced and generously buttered. For the best flavour, keep the loaf in an airtight tin, or wrapped in foil or clingfilm, for two or three days before eating.

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