This is my first post for Fiesta Fridayand I would like to take a little walk down memory lane.Hearing about Alan Rickman passing away this week was such a shock. What a brilliant actor. Yes, I liked him as Severus Snape but my ultimate favourite was his role as Colonel Brandon in Jane Austen’s film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
His passing reminded me of the good memories that film and his talent have given me. I remember, so many years ago, watching it with my sister and my mother. We would sip tea and and munch on bikkies and no matter how many times we watched it, our hearts would flutter when Colonel Brandon first set eyes on Marianne.
Or when he saved her life.
And read to her as she was recuperating.
Even my father loves that movie. Alan Rickman was wonderful. I am so grateful, as all of us who are fans of his, to have been able to enjoy his talents. How he left this world is truly admirable. With dignity. With humility. That has an impressive impact.
My plan this weekend is to get cozy on the sofa with my blanket and watch the movie. I will have my tea and nibble away at this gorgeous tea loaf which I adapted from Jamie Oliver. It is easy to make and is just lovely. I hope you like it too.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
6 English Breakfast tea bags
14 oz dried fruit, such as raisins, golden raisins, cherries, cranberries[I used raisins (both yellow and brown)and dates.
1 orange [You will need the juice and the grated peel]
1 large egg [Room temperature]
1 ½ cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon quality pumpkin pie spice[I did not have this so I put a tiny pinch of cinnamon and powdered cloves]
1 whole nutmeg, for grating [ I did not have this so I put just 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered nutmeg. Nutmeg is so strong].
1 lemon [The grated peel and the juice]
Put 4 of the tea bags into a measuring jug and add 1¼ cups of boiling water. Leave to brew for a few minutes, then remove the tea bags. Put the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl, grate over the zest of the orange and pour over the hot tea. Give it a good stir, then cover and leave to one side for a few hours, ideally overnight – so the fruit swells and soaks up all the tea.[I let it sit overnight]
When the fruit is completely rehydrated, preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 4-cup loaf pan with parchment paper– the easiest way to do this is to use one piece to line the sides and bottom, then a long strip to cover the ends of the tin.
Whisk the egg and add to the bowl of fruit along with 1 cup of the sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and a few good gratings of nutmeg and squeeze in the juice of the orange. Mix until you have a dough-like consistency (it might seem a little bit dry, but it’ll be fine). Spoon the mixture into your lined pan.
Bake in the oven for around 1 hour 10 minutes, or until cooked through. To test it, poke a skewer or a cocktail stick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s baked through; if not, give it a few more minutes.[Mine took an hour and 20 minutes and when it got brown at the top very quickly, I loosely covered the top with foil. Then I removed it in the last 10 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get too brown!]
Meanwhile make your syrup. Put the 2 remaining tea bags into a pan with ¾ cup of water and the zest and juice of the lemon. Gently bring to the boil, removing the tea bags after a couple of minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar and bring back to the boil without stirring – keep it on a medium he at so that you have a steady boil for around 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by half and you have a lovely golden syrup. Pour this into a jug.
As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, use a cocktail stick or a skewer to make lots of little holes in the top, then pour the syrup all over it. Once the syrup has been absorbed, transfer the loaf to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Serve with a cup of tea and some butter, or with a few glasses of sherry and a nice Wensleydale cheese as an after-dinner treat.