I usually make a cake when we have friends coming over, but this time I decided to try something a bit different and make tea bread. They were also due over in the morning, and I knew I wouldn't be up in enough time to bake before their arrival, so tea bread also has the advantage that it can be made in advance!
First of all you steep a tea bag for 3 minutes. I used an Earl Grey one. You can make yourself a cup of tea at the same time.
Whilst it's steeping, chop up a variety of dried fruit. I used whatever I had in the cupboard - so it included sultanas, cranberries, pears and dates, rather than what was actually specified in the recipe. Add zest and juice from one orange, plus the tea (minus the tea bag!), and leave, covered, for six hours whilst you wander off to do some more knitting/drink tea etc.
The recipe says to grease and line a loaf tin, but I used a loaf tin liner, because it's SO much easier.
Many hours later, having drunk plenty of tea and done lots of knitting, cream together the butter and sugar.
Turn the light on, and add in the eggs, plus gradually beat in the sifted flour, followed by the tea-soaked dried fruit.
And then pour into the loaf tin.
It takes over an hour in the oven, so that's plenty more time to drink more tea/do some more knitting.
About 40 minutes into the baking time, sprinkle some muscovado sugar on top.
Ta da! Leave to cool on wire rack. Then put in tin overnight.
The following morning slice up to serve to friends - it tastes best buttered. And washed down with tea, obviously.