Fanny stretches her definitions in the Home-Made Bread part to include a Simple Tea Loaf. Not that I'm complaining, much as her bread has been grand so far, it's nice to have a much 'kneaded' break and a wee slice of cake is very welcome indeed to balance it all out. And well, it's a loaf, so all is well. Fanny says that this particular recipe is the ONLY one in her whole LIFE she has ever found in a leaflet that has been worth making more than once to find out it's quality. Presumably she's not talking about her own leaflets? Which are booklets really, and sometimes contain so many high quality recipes they are more like small books...
Fanny suggests using any mixture of dried fruit for this recipe, just whatever is bulging out of your kitchen cupboards and crying out to be used at the time. I've got a selection of raisins, dried cherries and dried apricots which would seem to fit the bill. I'm lucky that my local fruit and veg shop, Tattie Shaws, sells a great selection of almost everything, including dried fruits. It's like a wee treasure trove in there. It's hard to resist adding some Glacé Cherries into the mix too, no cake of Fannys would be complete without them.
Fanny doesn't specify the tea to be used either. I think I'm being trusted to make more and more decisions all by myself these days. I think I can just about cope in choosing a tea-bag for a loaf. Or can I? Giving myself a shake I head to the kitchen and decisively make a selection. My choice is from TeaPigs, and is a Liquorice and Peppermint, which I hope gives a slightly different flavour to the fruity cake. Fanny would probably raise her considerable eye-brows and remind me that I am among professionals now, and professionals only use blah-de-blah tea but I'm feeling a little rebellious. Also, it's all I have in my cupboard. So kind of rebellious and entirely practical.
The instructions are relatively simple, which is just as well after all these edgy and exhausting decisions. I chop up the apricots and halve the glacé cherries so that all the fruits are almost the same size. Sitting down with a delicate china cup of tea to munch on a gob-full of dried fruit just wouldn't do. A fair amount of brown sugar is mixed in, so much so that I'm questioning Fannys accuracy here, but I plough on. The cold tea is poured on top, and the (self raising) flour, a little salt and one solitary egg is worked in. Very economical. Fanny says the mixture will be very loose, and it is. Reading ahead, I had buttered and floured a loaf tin, so once combined it all gets poured in and baked in a moderate oven for a whole hour.
The finished 'loaf' comes out of the tin very well - that buttering and flouring technique is a good top tip of Fannys. Fanny says if you and your family are able to exercise some self control the loaf can be covered in foil once cooled and left for 24 hours before cutting. My self control is out of control so I take the other option of slathering over some icing glaze, decorating it with more glacé cherries, slicing and getting stuck in. Fanny says if you follow her techniques the fruit will 'stay where you put it' and not sink to the bottom of the cake. Unlike the weather in Edinburgh today though, it is quite dry and a little crunchy (maybe there was too much sugar after all?), but with a cup of tea it is lovely. With butter smothered on it I am sure it'll be even better. If only I'd been able to leave it for a day! Fanny is certainly right (again) - this is one recipe worth hanging on to the leaflet for and making again! I'm sure she meant one recipe not of hers though, undeniably they are well used, aren't they?