Pint of this, pint of that Tea loaf.

We English are an eccentric bunch and quite proud of it. We, as a nation, underwent decimalisation on 15 February 1971 yet many of us still ask the butcher for half a pound of sausages and pop to the shops to buy a pint of milk. Well, it doesn’t sound quite the same asking for 227g of sausages and 473 ml of milk does it?

And it is the same when it comes to cooking. I originally trained as a clinical biochemist so I worked day in-day out with microlitres and millilitres and solids were weight to 2 decimal places in grammes. Yet in my own kitchen I more often than not work in pounds, ounces and pints! I am slowly getting the hang of using cup measurements but it really goes against the grain to do it!

This recipe is a doddle! It , as the name suggests, literally uses a pint of this and a pint of that. So simple! The beauty of this recipe is its adaptability. As long as you have a total volume of 1 pint of dried fruit, it doesn’t matter what you use. I love cherries so always include them but you can just as easily include dates or raisins. Similarly, you can vary the flavour by changing your choice of tea or including a spirit such as whisky or rum but in each case you must use a dark tea or spirit. I make a pot of good old-fashioned builders tea to soak my fruit in. Nothing fancy I assure you!  I quite often throw in a teaspoon of mixed spice too! See, I told you it was adaptable!

There is nothing better than a slice of this with a bit of butter on it and a steaming hot cuppa!

Ingredients:

1 pint dried fruit

0.5 pint soft dark brown sugar

0.5 pint of strong cold tea

1 egg

1 pint self-raising flour

Method:

  1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the tea overnight.
  2. Mix in the egg and flour until you a smooth batter.
  3. Pour into greased loaf tins. I split this mixture between two smaller tins but you can just use 1 large one.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven (160 degrees C. 325 F) for 40-60 mins depending upon the size of the loaf tin.
  5. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.

This tea loaf keeps really well in a cake tin but will freeze well too. I love it toasted and dripping in butter! Is it any wonder I struggle to keep my weight down?

 Hope you enjoy it!

Love

Ali x

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Chocolate Truffles…. Yum Yum Yum!

Since Easter is fast approaching and some of us are probably at that age when we really are too old for Easter eggs (Never!! I refuse to grow up!) I thought I would share my recipe for chocolate truffles. I really is the easiest recipe ever and very versatile too. Beautifully boxed, they make the most well received gifts.

There are two varieties of truffles shown above, dark chocolate and orange rolled in icing sugar and milk chocolate rolled in vermicelli and chocolate flakes. Both were made by tweaking the same recipe.

Basic Ingredients:

150g good quality milk or dark chocolate

150ml double cream

25g butter.

Basic Method:

  1. Place broken up chocolate pieces into a food processor and pulse until the chocolate resembles rumble. A couple of blasts should do it.
  2. Bring the cream and butter to a boil then carefully pour it through the liquid funnel of the food processor whilst the machine is running. BE CAREFUL!
  3. Transfer the truffle mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (milk chocolate truffles often require leaving overnight)
  4. Remove from the fridge and form into small balls. It should make approximately 24 truffles.
  5. Roll in your chosen coating.

Flavour variations to the truffle mixture:

  • add 0.5 tsp orange oil or the grated zest of half an orange
  • add 1 tsp of espresso powder
  • add 0.5tsp peppermint oil
  • add 1 tsp chai tea powder
  • add 1 tbs of alcohol or liqueur e.g. whiskey, rum, brandy, Cointreau, Drambaui

Coating variation

  • icing sugar (simple but effective)
  • melted chocolate (make sure your truffle mixture is very cold before you coat them)
  • vermicelli
  • Toasted chopped nuts
  • Edible gold leaf (very decadent!)

  As I said this is a very simple, versatile recipe. I have only discussed milk and dark chocolate because I am not sure how well white chocolate will work in this recipe. I know when I have made white chocolate ganache in the past it can be temperamental so I have tended to steer clear of using it. If you can get it to work please let me know.

Hope you have fun experimenting!

Let me know how you get on!

Ali x