Anyone else hit a rut somewhere between 3pm-5pm? It’s my least favourite time of day. My energy and concentration levels take a dip and my mind is on anything but the task in hand. All the goals I optimistically set myself to achieve that day are far from materialising, and in winter it’s already getting dark…but it’s still not dinner time (the worst of both worlds, in my opinion). It’s the mid-late afternoon that I find myself either reaching for a coffee or taking a nap, neither of which is ideal.
A brisk walk or a change of scene usually helps perk me up a bit – even if it just means heaving myself out of the library and into a nearby coffee shop to try and work there instead. Sometimes though, I really do just need a break and chance to clear my head. If I’m not actually being productive, why bother sitting there pretending to be? I may as well be sitting in bed with tea and cake.
Which is exactly where this tea bread comes in. I tend to think of it as an afternoon tea kind of food primarily, but really there isn’t a bad time of day to enjoy it. It’s an all round winner if you like fruit cake, because that’s essentially what it it is, but it feels significantly healthier. The earl grey and orange flavours blend together so well. It feeds a family comfortably, but also works well for singletons as you can slice it, freeze it, and pop a slice in the toaster whenever you feel like it. I’ve made this version fat free, 100% wholegrain and stuffed full of juicy dried fruit, so it’s nice and filling as well – and super easy to make, even for pretty busy/lazy people like myself.
What are you waiting for? Take a break this afternoon, wherever you are, with a big cup of a tea and a slice of this yummy fruit loaf – and if you decide to slather it with butter and jam too, I wouldn’t blink twice. Happy afternoon, everyone!
Makes 1 2lb loaf
-400g mixed dried fruit (2 2/3 cups)
-150ml pure maple syrup/honey/agave nectar (2/3 cup)
-300ml strong, hot Earl Grey tea – I recommend using 2 teabags (1 1/4 cup)
-275g wholemeal or spelt flour (2 1/3 cups)
-1 heaped tsp baking powder
-1 egg, beaten
-zest of one orange
-a few handfuls of flaked almonds, to decorate
1. Put dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the maple syrup/honey and tea. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (130 fan) and line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
3. Add the flour, zest and egg to the bowl of fruit, tea and syrup and mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Pour into the tin and sprinkle the almonds over the top.
4. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours – exactly how long it needs will depend on your oven so I recommend checking it fairly frequently after it’s been in for an hour. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean; if it starts burning on top before it’s done, cover it in tin foil.
5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins before transferring it to a wire rack to cool. Wait until it has cooled completely to cut into it or it may crumble.