Let me eat cake

Tea-loaf cake.

So. No fat at all? But I love baking cakes!

Cake baking is my joy and relaxation. You make something delicious, then you eat it – that’s close to perfection.

Cake baking has got me through the pandemic. But for that exact reason, it’s probably also why I’ve gat gallstones.

I like cream cakes.

Victoria sponge.

Quick mini chocolate cakes for the kiddo.

In the early days of the pandemic I learnt how to make donuts and yeasted buns, something I never thought I’d have the patience for.

In the darkest days, I learnt that my most soothing, primal comfort in life is fruit crumble with custard. (Preferable rhubarb and cherry, but honestly any fruit would do.)

So it’s no surprise that one of the first things I did, after learning I now have to live fat-free, was google fat-free cake recipes.
some unsuccessful hot cross buns pink fairy cakes Left-over Christmas marzipan and apple pie A little Easter trifle pecan and pumpkin pie Iced cream buns with strawberry jam. Kiddo’s last birthday cake I once spent my own birthday learning how to make fondant fancies and chocolate eclairs My typical baking style

I decided to start with a recipe by someone called NigellaLawless, who lives in County Down, Northern Ireland, posted on allrecipes.co.uk.

It’s called “Almost fat free tea loaf” and I found it after sadly scrolling through many decidedly unappetizing-looking Angel Cake recipes.
“Almost fat free tea loaf” recipe on allrecipes.com
Allrecipes.com is a site where ordinary people share their own recipes. The collections come with simple instructions and achingly realistic photos, and names that are either endearingly personal (“Traditional rice pudding (my mum’s way)“) or straight-to-the-point (“Quick tuna bake“).

I find the British and US versions fascinating for the insight they give into what normal people eat in each country.

The UK version feels like home. The US version reminds me that I am still a foreigner, and this is a foreign land.

So anyway. This tea cake.

It basically involves soaking dried fruit (raisins, dried apples, and dried apricots in my case) in black tea (Spice Imperial), then mixing the tea-fruit mixture with heavily spiced self-raising flour, sugar, and a beaten egg. You then bake it for an hour.

There are a couple of other similar recipes on the site, some of which insist you have to soak the fruit overnight and others that substitute out the egg to make it vegan.

But I liked this one’s simplicity and versatility. I can see how you could switch it up easily, by trying different flavors of tea (Lapsang Souchong would be great) or different raisin/dried fruit combinations.
Not bad. Pretty darn tasty even.
So how did it work out?

Well, I was worried it might be too dry to eat on it’s own, because it’s basically more of a sweet fruit bread than a cupcake.

So while the dried fruits were soaking in the tea, I made a big batch of fruit compote to go with it.

Compote involves putting a bag of frozen mixed berries and another of cherries in a large pot, added a splosh of cheap rose wine I had lying around and about a tsp of maple syrup, and then letting it boil away for a few hours.

I usually eat it with labna, which of course is now on the forbidden list. But I’m thinking it will still be nice to have around for quick desserts.

Anyway the tea bread smelt amazing while it was baking. Spicy and fruity. And when it came out the oven it was delicious. Soft and moist inside with a good firm crust.
Not exactly an eclair, but still satisfying to make and eat
I served it with the compote and it was very satisfying. It would be a little sad on it’s own without butter, even when hot out the oven, but with the sweet soft fruit it was great.

The Misters and I had a slice each with compote, then I cut about 3/4 of the loaf into individual slices and put them in the freezer.

Now I know there is an easy cake-fix in reach when I need one, I feel a lot less scared about this whole diet thing.

Almost Fat-free Tea Loaf


Serves: 6 

280g (10 oz) raisins

300ml (10 fl oz) strong hot tea

340g (12 oz) self raising flour

110g (4 oz) sugar

1 teaspoon ground allspice [Note: I used mixed spice, and added about twice this amount]

1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Steep the raisins in the hot tea for half an hour.

Mix dry ingredients together. Add the raisin-tea mixture and the beaten egg. Gently combine using a rubber spatula, but don’t over mix.

Scoop ingredients into an oiled loaf tin.

Bake at 180 C / Gas 4 for 1 hour.

Recipe by: NigellaLawless at allrecipes.co.uk
Frozen slices ready to go