Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ginger and Smoked Tea Loaf with a Caravan Crust

I hadn't planned on publishing this one until next week, but it's so good I just couldn't wait to share it with you all. In fact I want to scream my love for this fantastic recipe from the rooftops, as it's without doubt one of the best tea loaves I've ever made. The combination of ginger and smoked tea is exquisitely ambrosial, heady and romantic in it's fragrance, with a titillating, sweetly spiced flavour and a soft, almost melt in the mouth texture. Be it for a cheeky breakfast or an afternoon tea treat it's a real barnstormer of a bake and no matter what you decide to spread on it (if anything at all) I promise you will not be disappointed. So what are you waiting for?

Prep time: 15 Mins (Plus overnight soaking time)
Baking time: 75 Mins
300g Dates (I used Medjool), chopped
75g Stem Ginger Syrup (from a jar of Stem Ginger)
125g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
300ml Hot and strong Russian Caravan Tea (Or Lapsang if you'd prefer)
250g Self Raising Flour
2tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Nutmeg
1 Large Egg (Beaten)

For the Caravan Crust
100ml Strong Russian Caravan Tea (Or Lapsang)
50g Caster Sugar

Ready? Then let's begin. In the evening place the chopped dates in a shallow container, along with the stem ginger syrup and brown sugar. Pour over the hot tea, give it all a mix together, then leave to cool, stirring it occasionally. When it has cooled to room temperature cover and leave overnight, by which time the dates will have begun to break down and the mixture will have become syrupy.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3, grease a 23cm (2lb I think!) loaf tin and line completely with baking paper (or one of those handy loaf tin liners if you have one). Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix through the ground ginger and nutmeg. Pour in the soaked dates, along with the soaking liquor, not forgetting to dip your finger in for a taste first (as the liquor is DIVINE). Add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly to a consistent batter, then pour into your prepared loaf tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 75 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the loaf. When you are happy the loaf is cooked remove it from the oven and set to one side for ten minutes, whilst you prepare the caravan crust.

Speaking of which, pour the 100ml of tea into a small saucepan and add the caster sugar. Place on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up high and leave to bubble away until reduced and syrupy. You'll find the bubbles will start to hold their shape, which means it's time to turn the heat off. Carefully remove the hot loaf from the tin and place on a wire rack with a plate underneath (to catch any dripping syrup). Brush the syrup all over the top of the loaf and leave to cool completely, by which time the syrup should have crystallised slightly, leaving a sweet, shiny crust.

I personally love any sort of tea loaf sliced, warmed through either under the grill or in the toaster, then spread with peanut butter. There are no rules though, the choice is yours!


  1. Oooh sounds great, and am intrigued about the Caravan tea, will need to track some down! Thanks for sharing!

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