While rummaging through a local thrift store I came across a nice little book of plain cakes. I have always had a fondness for plain snack cakes as pound cake is my all time favorite cake. I like the ease of making them with no fussy decoration. Not to mention I love having them on hand for a quick breakfast, afternoon tea or just plain snacking.
I have always had a thing for British TV especially the baking shows. As most of my tv watching involves Nigella Lawson, The Two Fat Ladies, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood I have developed quite an interest in British baking. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to read this new book and found that it was a British book with all those wonderful British cakes that I hear about all the time and have never made. Now was my chance. There was a whole chapter on tea loaves and I dove right in. This all seems even more apropos as I am preparing for my annual pilgrimage to Michigan to see my best friend Jill. I met Jill back in 1980 when I was in the Navy and stationed with her then husband. He invited me over for drinks and to watch movies and that is how I met Jill. We became fast friends the instant we met and it has been that way ever since. For awhile there in the 1990s we lost touch as I moved and she moved and so on. Finally thanks to the wonders of Facebook we reconnected and started our annual get together which we affectionately call YackFest as we spend most of the time sitting up until all hours yacking. One of the staples of these visits is usually a tea party. Usually as a treat for Jills’ mom but sometimes just for friends or neighbors. These just reminded me so much of the fun that awaits me in a few weeks that I had to make one. Of course I couldn’t decide which one to make so I made three of them. All easy and all delicious. I think we will be adding them to the tea table at YackFest 2016.
The three I chose to make are Date and Walnut Teabread (which was my favorite), Banana and Cranberry Tea Loaf and Marbled Chocolate and Orange Teabread. They were all easy to make and can easily be done by hand so no getting out the mixer. I did have to make a trip to the store for self-rising flour which is a product I never have in my pantry. One recipe also calls for whole wheat self-rising flour which I have absolutely never heard of and could not find anywhere. I made my own by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of whole wheat flour. It worked.
The other good thing was that I finally got to use these darling but rarely used bread tins. I bought these in Paris about 15 years ago. I saw them in the store and couldn’t resist them but when I got them home I found that they were just too small to be of any use. I think in all these years I have used them once. As it turns out the Chocolate and Orange teabread makes two small loaves and these were the perfect size for them. Finally, a use for these silly little pans.
Recipes for all three loaves follow:
Date & Walnut Teabread
3/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
scant 1 1/3 cups pitted dates, chopped into small pieces
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
scant 1/4 cup water
scant 1` cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup whole-wheat self -rising flour
2/3 cup white self-rising flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
8 walnut halves
TO DECORATE orange zest
Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Grease and line the bottom and ends of a 2-lb/900-g loaf pan.
Place the dates in a pan with the orange rind and juice and water and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring, or until it is a soft purée.
Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then sift in the flours and fold in with the chopped walnuts.
Spread one-third of the mixture over the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread half the date purée over the top. Repeat the layers, ending with the cake mixture. Arrange walnut halves on top.
Bake in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, peel off the lining paper, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with orange zest and serve in slices.
Banana & Cranberry Loaf
1 tbsp butter, for greasing
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup chopped candled peel
2 tbsp chopped mixed nuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
5-6 tbsp orange juice
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup confectioners – sugar, sifted
grated rind of I orange
Preheat the oven to 350°F 1180°C. Grease a 2-lb/900-g loaf pan with the butter and line the base with baking parchment.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, bananas, chopped candied peel, nuts, and cranberries.
Stir the orange juice, eggs, and oil together, until thoroughly blended. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and level the surface with a spatula.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, until firm to the touch or until a fine metal skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out dean. Turn out the loaf onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
Mix the confectioners’ sugar with a little water and drizzle the frosting over the loaf. Sprinkle orange rind over the top. Let the frosting set before serving the loaf in slices
Marbled Chocolate & Orange Teabread.
2/3 cup butter, softened, plus extra for grousing
2 3/4 oz 75 g semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/4 cups golden superfine sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
generous 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
grated rind of 2 oranges
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and line the bottom and ends of 2 x 1-lb/450-g loaf pans.
Place the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Remove from the heat once the chocolate has melted.
Place the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture and fold in.
Transfer one-third of the mixture to the melted chocolate and stir. Stir the orange rind into the remaining mixture and spread one-fourth of the mixture evenly in each cake pan. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture on top, dividing it between the 2 pans, but do not smooth it out. Divide the remaining orange mixture between the 2 pans, then, using a knife, gently swirl the top 2 layers together to give a marbled effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the lining paper, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.