Retrieved from an old farmhouse baking book, this recipe has dates and walnuts, which make for a delicious tea loaf, but can also make it a little dry, almost dusty, especially if the walnuts aren’t in their first flush of youth. Deliciously, the inclusion of mashed bananas helps with the moistness and the apple sauce really brightens the flavour with its freshness. Neither flavour dominates, making the loaf wonderfully flavoursome. Finally, it is brought to a rich, batter consistency by a splash-ette of lager – and indeed, Lager Loaf was the original recipe title – but that sounds too much like Lager Lout to my ears – which is far from tasty – so I feel justified in renaming it.
And it is a distinct improvement to eat spread with butter, with a cup of something hot.
Fruitbowl Tea Bread
You don’t HAVE to make this with the apple – if you have the eggs, just use two and no apple.
85g unsalted butter
1tbs golden syrup
85g soft brown or light muscovado sugar
1 sharp eating apple, e.g. Jazz or Braeburn
1 large egg
280g self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
125g chopped dates
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin with parchment paper. Tear off a second piece of parchment and make a fold down the middle. This piece will be used during the baking.
- Peel and core the apple, then grate finely into a small saucepan. Cover with a lid and heat gently until the apple has broken down into a puree. Sieve to remove any lumps. If you’re impatient, whizz it in a small food processor.
- Gently warm the butter, syrup and sugar either in a pan or using the microwave, until melted.
- Add the lager and apple puree, then whisk in the egg.
- Mash the bananas. Make sure your dates and walnuts are also chopped and ready.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into a bowl.
- Add the liquid mixture and stir thoroughly.
- Quickly fold through the bananas, dates and nuts and pour into the prepared tin.
- Place into the oven and prop the second piece of parchment over the tin with the fold at the top, rather like a tent. This will prevent the top of the loaf from becoming too dark during baking.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the ‘tent’ and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Be sure to test the cake for done-ness using a cocktail stick/skewer/cake tester before removing from the oven – the moisture in the bananas and apple will make it very moist, so be sure it’s baked all the way through, especially towards the bottom.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve sliced and buttered, and store in an airtight container.