Earl Grey Tea Bread
Tea loaves have roots that branch out across Britain and Ireland, from Irish barmbrack to Welsh bara brith and Yorkshire tea bread. There are purists in all corners and plenty of debate about which version is best, but the basic premise remains the same wherever you go: strong tea is used to make a silky, only lightly sweet cake batter, often with spices, which is then baked into a hearty loaf with dried fruit. In this version, Earl Grey tea, along with the addition of a little orange zest, brings a welcome aromatic edge, which I’m especially fond of at this grey time of year. There’s no fat in this recipe, but please don’t think that this is out of any kind of ascetic virtue. Making a low-fat batter simply means that the crumb will be springier and more robust, and so able to withstand being sliced, toasted, and—wait for it—spread with a perfect, thick layer of butter before serving. Read Ruby Tandoh's essay on its importance in her personal life: The Beauty of Plain.