I am quite a decent cook (ie, things taste OK and I’m comfortable in the kitchen) but I’m not the best baker, which I kind of find annoying as my Gran was rather a good one and she always used to have biscuits and cakes ready for anyone who popped by, an idea I quite like.  I go through phases of baking lots of bread, which I am getting the hang of, but my cakes are very hit and miss; I have, however, with the help of the wonderful Mary Berry discovered that tea loaves are quite doable with little room for errors (if you’re new to baking I highly recommend her Baking Bible as it contains mostly cakes made using the ‘all-in-one’ method which I find are harder to mess up).


Once I knew I wasn’t going to make Christmas cake or pudding I decided to use up the remaining fruit (probably there from last year!) and try to reduce the mountain of flour I seem to have collected, by making some tea loaves.  These are basically a cake mixture (made with flour, sugar, eggs and fruit – usually no fat) cooked in a loaf tin.  After trying out a number of recipes over the past year, the two main winners are both by Mary – the ‘Barrowdale Teabread’ (do google it if you want the recipe, as lots of people post it) which is made with wholemeal self-raising flour (I only found out the other day that you don’t really get SR flour in the US…is that true?? how confusing, if so), a bucket full of fruit and some tea*.  The wholemeal flour makes me feel better about eating it 🙂  The top favourite, though, is Mary’s ‘Walnut Teabread‘, which has a lovely taste of golden syrup….probably because it has enough to make your teeth ache when you just look at the ingredients list.


I don’t normally copy recipes here, unless I’ve changed them about a bit but I’m pretty sure Mary wont mind (she’s too nice), so here it is, although in my own words:


  • 100g (4oz) granulated sugar
  • 175g ( 6oz) golden syrup
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) milk
  • 50g (2 oz) sultanas
  • 225g (8 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g (2 oz) roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg beaten


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 if you have a fan oven. Butter and line 900g (2lb) loaf tin – personally I have those great ready made liners, bought from Lakeland.
  2. Put the sugar, golden syrup, milk and sultanas into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, or if you’re lazy like me, microwave them for a bit then stir.  Allow to cool.
  3. Measure the flour, baking powder and walnuts into into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the beaten egg to the cooled syrup mixture, stir in, then pour the lot into the dry ingredients and mix well until smooth.  I use my Kitchen Aid for this bit.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in oven for 50 mins to an hour.  It should be firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. If needs be, cover the top with foil towards the end of cooking to make sure it doesn’t brown too much.
  6. Leave to cool for 10mins in the tin before turning out, also removing the liner paper and place on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Once cold, serve in slices, ideally buttered (but this is quite moist, sweet teabread so can happily be eaten without butter).

As you can see from the top photos, this teabread isn’t as loaded with fruit as some versions are, but it is delicious.  Apparently it freezes rather well too, although I wouldn’t know because we always eat it too quickly 🙂

* I adapt the recipe in MB book by adding a level teaspoon of baking powder so I can also make this loaf as an all-in-one, ie wet ingredients added to dry then a really good ‘beat’ in the mixer to combine everything and add some air.  It has always turned out fine, in fact no different to the full length proper method.