This is officially the easiest thing I've ever baked, ever. It's so, so delicious too, and the name 'tea bread' doesn't do the wonderful, crusty, chewy, richly scented and richly fruited thing justice.
This is a kind of 'quick bread' rather than a true bread: it doesn't need yeast, but it's not really a cake either since it's not made with any fats (no butter, oil or vegetable fat). It's a slightly bread-y, slightly cake-y loaf of deliciousness, made moist by plenty of dried fruits that have been soaked overnight in a good, strongly brewed cup of tea. Slice it, eat it as it is, spread it with butter, or toast it. Best of all, serve it alongside a cup of the same tea you used to steep the fruits in: it's pure nirvana.
I like my tea bread lightly spiced, so I used a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ground ginger. As for the tea itself, feel free use any tea you like- ordinary black tea, earl grey, fruit teas... go nuts. I used Russian caravan tea, which has become my recent favourite in the black tea division after a recommendation from a friend. The dark, malty smokiness of Russian caravan works incredibly well with the spices. If you're using a fruit tea, I'd suggest swapping the spices for vanilla or a drop or two of rosewater to complement the fresh flavours.
-250ml hot, freshly brewed tea
-375g mixed dried fruit (usually found in the baking section where all the raisins and nuts are)
-250g self-raising flour
-125 dark brown soft sugar
-1tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ginger
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 egg, beaten
1) The night before you want to bake your tea bread, soak your dried fruits in the hot tea overnight in a bowl. No need to put it in a fridge: just cover the top with some clingfilm.
2) On the day, grease and line a loaf tin with some baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (10 degrees lower than if you were baking a sponge- I think this is to stop the fruit on top from burning, but don't quote me on this).
3) Measure out all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, and stir in your soaked fruits, unabsorbed tea and all, and the egg.
4) Scrape the firm, sticky dough evenly into your prepared loaf tin, drop the filled tin on the counter a few times to bash out any air bubbles, and put it in the oven to bake for an hour.
5) Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy sliced up and still slightly warm- and of course, don't forget that complementing cup of tea to drink alongside it.
Possibly originally adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe- I can't remember. I think the original recipe had bicarbonate of soda and plain flour instead of self-raising flour and baking powder, and no spices. I secretly think my take is better.