Making Tea Breads

Tea bread is the name generally given to fruit breads that are served sliced and buttered. Simple homely cakes, they originally formed part of an early supper or tea-time meal. They may or may not use yeast as the raising agent, and only in some recipes will a pot of freshly-made tea be called for!

Bara Brith

A traditional Welsh favourite

  • 450g (1lb) strong white bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 110g (4oz) margarine
  • 1½ teaspoons dried yeast
  • 110g (4oz) sultanas
  • 110g (4oz) raisins
  • 110g (4oz) currants
  • 25g (1oz) mixed peel
  • 110g (4oz) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Milk

Sieve the flour, salt and spice together into a large bowl. Rub the margarine into the flour. Stir in the yeast, dried fruit and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add in the beaten egg and some milk, heated to hand-hot. Mix to a soft dough, adding more milk if necessary. Knead well for 10 minutes. Leave to rise, covered, in a warm place, until it’s doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5 and grease a loaf tin. Knead the dough again and then place in the tin. Cover and leave in a warm place until it’s doubled in size again. Bake for 1½ – 2 hours.

While it’s still hot, dissolve 2 tablespoons icing sugar in 3 tablespoons warm water. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Brush this over the top of the loaf to glaze.

Serve sliced, spread with fresh Welsh butter.

Banana Bread

A fruit and nut tea bread

  • 225g (8 oz) plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 110g (4oz) margarine
  • 150g (5oz) soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 bananas
  • 75g (3oz) walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3. Grease and base-line a large loaf tin.

Sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Peel and mash the bananas and stir into the mixture. Gradually fold in the sieved flour, and finally fold in the walnuts. Pour into the tin and bake for about 1 hour or until well-risen and browned.

Serve sliced with loads of Butter.

Sultana Bread

Our favourite tea bread

  • 375g (13oz) sultanas
  • 50g (2oz) margarine
  • 330ml (12fl oz) hot water
  • 375g (13oz) self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 250g (9oz) sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Grease and base-line a loaf tin.

Place the sultanas, margarine and hot water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes and then allow to cool a little.

Sieve the flour and bicarb into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Mix in the warm fruit and liquid. Finally stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Pour into the prepared tin and cook for about 45 – 55 minutes or until well-risen and nicely browned. If it looks as if it’s getting too brown, cover with foil. Check that it’s cooked by inserting a warmed skewer. If it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked.

Serve thickly sliced with fresh butter. This bread is very moist and keeps well.

True tea bread

  • 225g (8oz) sultanas
  • 110g (4oz) raisins
  • 200g (7oz) soft brown sugar
  • 425ml (15fl oz) freshly-made tea
  • 275g (10oz) self-raising flour
  • Salt
  • 2 eggs

The day before you want the bread, put the fruit and sugar to soak in the tea.

The following day, preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Grease and base-line a large loaf tin. Sieve together the flour and salt and add, along with the beaten eggs, to the fruit mix. Stir well. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 1½ hours or until cooked.

Cool and serve sliced and buttered.

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