The Irish tea loaf is another of our favorite recipes. This recipe was passed on to me by my maternal grandmother, who grew up in Dublin and moved to South Africa after marrying my grandfather in 1916.
The original tea loaf would have been made with a combination of available dried fruit and regular Ceylon tea. In South Africa, the packets of dried fruit cake mix are ideal for this recipe, and rooibos (red bush) tea provides a healthy dose of antioxidants and a delicious flavor.
I have adapted this recipe for easy preparation in the North American kitchen. Rooibos tea can be purchased from many local supermarkets and health food stores. The tea loaf freezes well and can be sliced and buttered when needed, making it the perfect back-up for unexpected guests!
- 6 ounces (1 cup) seedless raisins
- 4 ounces (2/3 cup) golden raisins
- 4 ounces (1 cup) dried cranberries
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup) dried tart cherries
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon marmalade
- 2½ cups strong black tea, hot (3–4 rooibos teabags)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1½ cups pecan nuts, optional
- Place the first eight ingredients in a large bowl, add the tea and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Cover and set aside for 12–18 hours.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Scrape into 2 medium-sized bread tins (9×5×3 inches), either lined or oiled and lightly floured.
- Bake at 350°F for 50–60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
- Tip onto a wire rack to cool.
- Slice and serve with butter.