Monday, 13 February 2012

Borrowdale Teabread

Recipe Number One Hundred & Fifty Seven:  Page 315.

I've been saving this recipe for Neil's granny's 92nd birthday. The happy day occurred over the weekend, so I was finally able to try this long awaited teabread. There was to be an afternoon knees up and all of Edith's family and friends were invited. As I had been told that there would be lots of cakes on offer, I decided I had better dig out my trousers with the elasticated waist! For those not wishing to resort to an elasticated waistband, my cake would provide the low fat option!

As the fruit needed to soak overnight in a copious amount of strong tea, I made a start the evening before the big day. Everyone was already in bed and I was soon to follow, but first I needed to get the cake underway. I had already had a bath, so was wrapped up in a dressing gown with my feet tucked into oversized slippers. I padded into the kitchen and boiled the kettle. It was tempting to add extra water and have a cup of tea. However, I decided that this probably wasn't a good idea just before bed! While I waited for the kettle to boil, I weighed the dried fruit into a large bowl. I had a little panic when I couldn't find the currants. After nearly toppling from my chair, it seems that these slippers are best suited to solid ground; I managed to put my hand on a half empty packet, hurrah! I weighed the currants, sultanas and raisins into a bowl in equal quantities. Soon I heard the kettle reach a frantic boil; this meant it was time to measure a pint of boiling water into a jug. Mary says that the tea should be strong. I wasn't sure how many teabags I should use to achieve this but decided on two. I left the tea to stew for around five minutes while I checked that both the front and back doors were locked and the TV unplugged; this is my nightly ritual! Once I had reassured myself that everything was as it should be, I could move on to pouring the hot, stewed tea over the dried fruit. There seemed to be an awful amount of liquid; the fruit was practically swimming. However, I felt pretty confident that, by morning, the tea would all have been absorbed and the fruit would be swollen and juicy!

The following morning I decided to get up and finish the cake before getting dressed. I trotted down the stairs with my hair stuck up on end and with a pillow crease sketched across my cheek! I felt a sense of déjà vu when I walked into the kitchen once again wrapped up in my dressing gown!

I turned the oven on and then carried out the boring task of lining my loaf tin. Neil offered a welcome distraction in the form of a cup of tea. I couldn't resist sitting down whilst sipping my piping hot drink. This delayed the baking by at least half an hour, whoops! Eventually I was back at my post and ready to weigh out the ingredients. First of all I added a very generous amount of light muscovado sugar and a couple of eggs to a bowl. I was instructed to mix them together until light and fluffy. I used my balloon whisk and it took a minute or two of whisking until my mixture had reached the all important light and fluffy stage. Now I needed to add in a large quantity of wholemeal flour. At this point I wondered how on earth I was going to fit in all the soaked fruit; it would certainly be a squeeze! I noticed that not all of the tea had soaked into the fruit, there was still a good amount sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Mary says to add any remaining liquid, so I tried not to let it worry me, but it did seem such a lot! Now came the part of mixing it all together. A fair amount of elbow grease was required to combine everything but I got there in the end! I spooned the thick, heavily fruited mixture into my awaiting tin. I had so much mixture. It was only half an inch from the top of the tin; surely it would spill over the sides whilst in the oven.

The cake had to cook for about an hour, so I used this time to head back upstairs to try to make myself presentable. This took some time and I only just made it back in time to check the cake an hour later! When I pulled the heavy tin from the oven, I saw that I had created a monster; it was absolutely gigantic!!! I always find it hard to test when a fruit cake is cooked through as they are so moist. I would have been mortified if it had been found to be uncooked at the party. I used my metal cake tester and inserted it into the middle of the cake. As it came out sticky I knew it wasn't cooked through, so back into the oven it went. In the end the teabread required an extra twenty five minutes! I am not very confident that our oven keeps its temperature very well. The cake needed to cool in the tin and time was ticking on. In the end I had to tip it out before it was completely cool. I quickly wrapped it up and we all headed off to the shindig.

Things were already well under way by the time we arrived and there were lots of delicious cakes on offer. It is always nice to try someone else’s creation and I really enjoyed my large slice of yummy chocolate cake. Isaac worked his way around the room and had soon charmed everyone into sharing their cake with him!! When my cake was unwrapped someone exclaimed that it was still warm! With bated breath I waited while it was cut into slices and I prayed that it was cooked through. My prayers were answered and it was fine. The slices of cake were massive due to the sheer height of the loaf. It went down very well particularly, I noticed, with the men! I did manage to sneak some of Neil's large slice and to carry out the important taste test. The first thing that struck me was how healthy it appeared to be. I could clearly taste the wholemeal flour. I had wondered if using entirely wholemeal flour might make the loaf heavy but it worked perfectly and also complimented the earthy flavour of the tea. I loved the flavour of the muscovado sugar. Considering the amount of sugar used, I was surprised that it wasn't too sweet! Mary says to serve the teabread buttered. I personally didn't think it needed it as it was so moist from all the delicious soaked fruit.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy the day with all her family and friends around her. What better way to celebrate your birthday than with the people you love and lots of cake!
Monster of a cake!
A rushed photo at the party!!


  1. Goodness, that cake does look a bit of a bruiser - but I bet it tasted yummy.

  2. It was a real bruiser! It was rather yummy and was soon snaffled! xx

  3. Just looked at you blog as I'm making the cake. I elected to make the smaller one with half the mixture but got a bit confused and ended up making two. Had got the fruit bit right, so ended up keeping back half of the egg, sugar and flour mix whilst waiting for more fruit to soak overnight. The first one seemed to take ages to bake before the skewer came out clean, so I was relieved to see your comment about the longer baking. Am baking for a show so I can't taste them until I decide which one to enter. The second one is in the oven now.