My dad defers to my mom in all things baking, save one exception: He always wants raisins. Whether the recipe calls for them or not. More raisins!
I pounced on this recipe for a number of reasons — and despite the fact that two of my editors are avowed raisin haters. The fact that it is chock-full of raisins and other dried fruit was a natural draw. Then my Anglophile instincts kicked in, as the bread (really a quick bread) features tea as a main ingredient and a perfect beverage pairing. And, of course, Mary Berry. The British queen of baking, former “Great British Baking Show” judge and idol of mine (I nearly fainted when I interviewed her last year about Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding cake). Her new cookbook, which is actually an updated compilation of two earlier books, is all about fast and easy “bakes in minutes.”
This particular recipe requires significant inactive time for soaking the dried fruit in the tea overnight and then an hour in the oven to bake, which I didn’t mind because everything comes together in a single bowl with a few quick stirs. The end result is a bread with a moist, tender crumb and lovely orange flavor. Think good fruitcake, but lighter and brighter.
It’s also an appealing recipe to customize based on your own tastes. As much as I loved using a whole cup of raisins, swapping half of them for candied orange peel nicely accented the orange zest in the bread. Currants are a great addition, too, but feel free to use this recipe as a template, swapping in your choice of tea, dried fruit and citrus zest. I’m looking forward to trying the bread many more times with the different loose-leaf teas in my embarrassingly large collection of tins.
As an added bonus, your house will smell amazing as the bread bakes. For the best texture, don’t cut into it right away once it’s done, hard as that might be to resist. I do, however, encourage you to start slicing while it’s still a bit warm to the touch. Serve it with a fresh pot of tea, and you might find yourself using the extra to go straight into your next loaf.
Recipe notes: You’ll need an 8-inch round cake pan for this recipe. We also tested it in a 9-inch pan; the bread will bake faster (start checking at about 45 minutes), and its texture might be a bit drier than the 8-inch bread.
The texture of the bread is best the day it is made, but leftovers hold up well for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap. (Pop a slice in the microwave for about 10 seconds for more of that just-baked texture and warmth.)