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Although you can butter the sliced tea cake, I don't. I don't think it needs it. This makes a fabulous addition to the cheese board.
The luscious dried fruits in the cake are soaked in hot tea and a splash or two of orange liqueur, all of which makes for a moist cake.
You can, of course, use any dried fruits you choose, but I particularly like the tart tanginess of New Zealand dried apricots and cranberries.
Tea cakes are often cooked in loaf tins, but I prefer to bake this in a ring tin. Cooked in a loaf tin the corners tend to dry out and there is a tendency for a slightly soggy middle.
Makes 1 cake
100g pitted dates, halved
100g NZ dried apricots, halved
100g dried cranberries
120g dark cane sugar
one-third cup honey
2 Tbsp Cointreau, other orange liqueur or juice
300ml hot, strong black tea. Earl Grey or English Breakfast work well
130g self-raising white flour
1 tsp baking powder
130g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
half tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs (size 7) lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 170degC. Line the base of a 21cm ring tin with baking paper and lightly spray the sides. If preferred use a loaf tin with a 6-7 cup capacity.
Put the dried fruit into a large microwave-proof bowl. Add the dark cane sugar, honey and Cointreau and pour over the hot tea. (If using tea bags use two).
Cover the bowl and zap it in the microwave for two and a half-minutes on full power. Cool to luke warm. Stir in the beaten eggs. Set aside.
In a large bowl sift the self-raising flour and the baking powder together then stir in the wholemeal flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Using a large metal spoon stir the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix until combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes for the ring tin and about 15 minutes longer for a loaf tin, or until a skewer poked in the middle comes away clean. Do not overcook.
Cool in the tin on a rack.
Store for 24 hours if possible before slicing as it is easier to slice when firm. Will keep for about a week, well wrapped in an airtight container in a cool place.
Cuts into 16 slices.