My grandma wasn’t the best cook in the world by anyone’s standards – but my sister and I loved her cooking. She liked routine with food and in her house Friday meant spaghetti bolognese, weekday lunches were always on a bit of a loop. I liked that you could almost set your watch by them!
My grandma (like most I guess) was a pretty good baker. Things that stick out in my mind were her apple pie, lemon meringue pie, true sponge and tea bread.
Despite the tea bread having no added sugar and no butter, this dense fruit cake was really popular with all of the family – especially all the grandchildren. My grandma used to slice it and then top it with butter but it really doesn’t need it – it’s so moist without it!
I’ve taken quite a few liberties with this recipe over the years – my grandma always made it with about 3/4 lbs of dried fruit – pretty much always raisins, sultanas and possibly currants too. I’ve played around with the recipe and included a variety of fruit and some nuts to give a little crunch. My grandma also never really experimented with spices but I love to add some spices into this cake to ramp up the hygge feeling!
N.B This recipe needs soaked fruit so I do the first step the night before I’m ready to make the cake.
375g dried mixed fruit (I used a bag which was mixed raisins, sultanas and mixed peel)
100g dried apricots, chopped
50g glacé cherries, halved
50g pecans or walnuts (or both), chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
150g Self raising flour (this works with a gluten free alternative too)
Boil the kettle and make a cup of strong black tea. Pour over the dried fruit (you can leave out the cherries and apricots for now). Cover the fruit and leave for a few hours for the tea to soak in, or, even better, overnight. If you’re feeling fancy you can use a posh teabag – I’ve tried earl grey which lends a nice citrus note to this cake. Red bush tea also works for those avoiding caffeine (although the actual amounts in the loaf are probably very small anyway!)
The next day, or when the tea has soaked into the fruit, preheat the oven to 160°c to 180°c (my oven settings are off so what is 160° in mine is probably about 180° in a normal oven!)
Add the halved glacé cherries, chopped apricots and nuts to the fruit mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon. Crack the egg in and stir until it’s fully combined with the fruit and nuts.
Sift the flour and spices together.
Add the flour to the sticky fruit mix and stir.
Pour into a 2lb loaf tin (I use liners) and cook in the oven for around an hour.
Cool for a short while in the tin. Great served while sliced still warm topped with butter but equally delicious cold. It keeps really well (up to 5-7 days in a Tupperware) but it never lasts more than two days in my house!