Skip to content

Cup of Tea Cake: a vintage loaf cake recipe

February 23, 2013

I received an email from a tea-loving colleague recently entitled “challenge Gill”. Now, before you suffer horrific mental images of turquoise jumpsuits (possibly back in fashion now?) I shall explain….

tea soaked cake

Tea-soaked fruit loaf cake

Mr-Tea’s flatmate works for the Red Cross and found the recipe in their archives. The challenge was to see if the recipe worked with its slightly vague measurements. I was more than happy to oblige and the results were rather good. I stuck rigidly to the recipe this time, but I have noted a few tweaks below that I would recommend if you are going to give it a go.

 Here’s the original recipe from a Mrs Mary Durham of Roydon, Essex:

vintage tea cake loaf recipe

From the Red Cross Archives

This is not your normal dense tea loaf and because the fruit is soaked it is extremely plump and juicy. Whilst the recipe suggests slathering it in butter I would deign to venture that it is moist and sweet enough to be better without.

Vintage tea loaf recipe

A juicy loaf. Butter not required.

I used an Americn 1cup measure just because it was what I had to hand but I think a normal mug would give a similar amount. I get the feeling that this recipe is quite forgiving, so I wouldn’t worry too much about mug/teacup size.  I also fast tracked the fruit by heating it up in the tea and then leaving it for an hour. I nicked this trick from The Pink Whisk’s recipe for mincemeat.

I would use less sugar next time  (3/4 cup probably) and use soft brown sugar or a mix of dark and light brown as I thought the cake was a little on the sweet side.

I fancy trying this with different types of tea. Earl Grey? Or maybe I could go to extremes and get some Lapsang Suchong in there.

Cup of Tea Cake

Use the same cup throughout
2 cups of mixed dried fruit inc. candied peel
1 cup of sugar [ I’d use 3/4 cup of soft brown sugar]
1/2 pint strong brewed tea
2 cups of self raising flour
1 egg
Stir the sugar in with the fruit and soak it in the tea overnight [or heat it gently in the tea and then leave to cool for an hour if you want to speed it up]
Stir the fruit mixture, then add the flour and beaten egg and mix well.
Pour into a loaf tin and bake for 1 hr at 175c / 350 f / Gas 4

So, challenge complete. Take that, Anneka.

anneka rice


I am entering this into Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge as I think an old recipe thrust upon you by a colleague is about as random as it gets.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2013 10:05 am

    perfectly random my dear and as this was quite an open brief this month it’s a great submission… and look at how gloriously moist it is… I do love an old fashion tea loaf, it reminds me of tea at Grandma’s on a Sunday… glorious… thanks for entering this month x

  2. February 23, 2013 11:31 am

    I always use hot tea to soak fruit, for dundee cake, bread pudding, teacakes, you name it if it has dried fruit I heat and soften it. Normally, if I am baking in the afternoon, I tip the residual contents of the breakfast teapot onto the fruit, cover with cling film, give a quick zap in the microwave then leave til baking time. It really does make a huge difference.

  3. February 24, 2013 5:48 pm

    It worked out so well. It looks scrummy!

  4. February 27, 2013 7:34 am

    What a fabulous recipe, it sounds perfect and your tweaks will work. I often find older recipes taste slightly too sweet.
    Jude x

  5. February 27, 2013 9:13 pm

    This looks delicious – I love a good tea cake (although weirdly I’m not a massive fan of proper fruitcake). Yum

  6. March 5, 2013 6:43 pm

    Ooh haven’t had a tea loaf for far too long and your vintage variety looks excellent. I have taken on board your sugar tip.

  7. March 13, 2013 11:50 am

    I LOVE recipes like this and I have bookmarked this recipe and post, and may make this cake VERY soon! What a GREAT RR entry and such a lovely vintage cake recipe too Gill! Karen

  8. June 23, 2014 9:12 am

    Excitinlgy, this recipe was used at a Thankyou event for Red Cross volunteers.


  1. Royal Tea Time with the Prince and Princess of Wales | Planet Red

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: