The inspiration for things to cook comes from here, there and everywhere. For this Earl Grey Fruit Loaf, the initial spark of an idea was at the breakfast table ... well, clearing the breakfast table to be more precise. And it sprouted from that pesky box of All Bran that I find myself putting out for breakfast every morning and then clearing away again ... untouched.
All Bran is not a breakfast cereal of choice for any of us, but it's been part of the ongoing debate between #1 teenage son and me about the importance of a good, hearty breakfast - especially when you're a growing teenager and even more so when you're powering up and down the pool for several hours a day. I've tried and failed to persuade him to rustle up some porridge or a couple of eggs in the morning (breakfast during the week is strictly a DIY arrangement), so something extra to sprinkle on top of the Bran Flakes seemed like a good idea. Controversially, cacao nibs (packed with antioxidants, you know) have been reasonably popular (despite being nicknamed 'Tree Bark'). But a little scattering of All Bran? A big fat failure.
And then the Earl Grey Fruit Loaf idea finally came together when I went to a friend's house for coffee and a chat. She'd made her legendary sticky, ginger loaf - light and spicy and ooooozing with golden syrup. 'Legendary' was my description and not hers. I'm pretty sure that in polite circles you wouldn't label your own creation as 'legendary' (although I'm a bit fearful of trawling through my old posts just in case I've ever succumbed) but as a compliment about somebody else's wares - it's as good as it gets. Right up there with likening it to a McVitie's Jamaica Ginger Cake in my world. And I did that too.
Anyway, the encounter with the legendary 'McVitie's rival' ginger loaf, brought me to a moment of realisation -
You only need one legendary cake in your repertoire to earn Queen of the Kitchen status.
And when it's a loaf cake you can avoid any troublesome icing or frosting. Bingo.
And so, the two ideas combined ... the need to shift that unloved box of All Bran and the desire to create a loaf cake. Legendary status would be a bonus.
But I think I nailed it with this Earl Grey Fruit Loaf - although the 60g of All Bran that I used proved negligible when I returned the box to the shelf. Oh well, you can't win em all.
And here's 10 reasons why this Earl Grey Fruit Loaf may well earn itself (and you) a status of legendary proportions -
- It's easy - no special skills required, just CHOP-SOAK-MIX-BAKE. It's one that the children could help with too.
- It's quick - you'll need to find enough time to leave the All Bran and the dried fruits to soak in the tea for about an hour (it's not a looker at this stage by the way) but you could always make an extra cup and savour it while the soaking does its thing. Or crack on with something else. Apart from that, it's all super speedy.
- It's a flexible recipe - choose whichever dried fruits you love/have in the cupboard to make up to the total weight. It's a great way to use up the ends of packets too.
- No fancy equipment required - you'll need a loaf tin, a pair of scissors to snip up any big pieces of dried fruit, a mixing bowl and a spoon. Nothing fancy in that list. I'm a big fan of these paper loaf tin liners, but some good old fashioned baking parchment would work just fine too. Here's a link to a short video explaining how best to tackle lining the tin.
- It's seriously fruity - this loaf is SO fruity that there's barely space for the cake part. And that grated apple is a winner of an ingredient. (Note - this is a great way to use up that bruised apple in the fruit bowl that everyone is avoiding.)
- And it's really moist too - all that dried fruit, all that soaking + a grated apple and what do you get? A wonderfully moist and fruity loaf. To be honest, the moist qualities don't present too well in the photos, so maybe you could trust me on this one? It doesn't NEED the butter, but butter on anything tastes great doesn't it?
- There's no need for frosting - a sprinkle of demerara sugar on the top of the cake mixture before baking and you'll have a perfect finish without the need to crack open the icing sugar. Pretty stylish too I'd say.
- It's filling - it's the All Bran and all that dried fruit you know.
- Will cover you for breakfast and afternoon tea - we enjoy it for both. And if I had to choose? Mmmmm .... too difficult.
- It's delicious - oh and did I mention that it's seriously delicious? In between his 3rd and 4th slices, #1 teenage son declared it to be, "Gorgeous. And is there any more?" The subtle Earl Grey flavour is just enough to make it interesting without being too fragrant. And if you've chosen your favourite dried fruits? Well, you can't go wrong. I'm thinking that it would also be scrummy with a piece of sharp, crumbly cheese. Perhaps a Lancashire or a Wensleydale. Now we're talking.
So anyway, the good, hearty breakfast debate continues but at least we now have the option of a bowl of Bran Flakes + a slice or three of Earl Grey Fruit Loaf on the side. Just need to work out how to use the remaining 315g of All Bran now...