Tea Cake

Cakes flavoured with strong tea and dense with fruit are very much in the Celtic tradition, with bannock, barm brack and bara brith being the Scottish, Irish and Welsh variations respectively. Some are baked with yeast, though these days it is more common to use self-raising flour.


  • 150 ml/ ¼ pt strong cold tea
  • 275 g/ 10 oz sultanas
  • 200 g/ 7 oz Muscovado sugar
  • 60 g/ 2 oz chopped mixed peel butter, for greasing
  • 275 g/ 10 oz self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • butter, to serve


Put the cold tea in a bowl with the sultanas, sugar and chopped mixed peel. Stir, cling-wrap the top and leave overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4. Butter a 20-cm / 8-inch round cake tin, then shake flour into it, turning it to coat well. Turn it upside down and tap sharply to remove any excess flour.

Sieve the self-raising flour into the mixture with the beaten egg and beat together with a wooden spoon.

Turn this mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1¾ hours, when a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes after you take it from the oven, then turn out on a wire rack to cool.

Serve the tea cake cut into thick slices and buttered.