This delicious tea loaf is adapted from Julie Duff's wonderful Cakes from Around the World. Ras-el-hanout is a complex Moroccan spice blend that includes coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and rose petals and is now available in most delicatessens and supermarkets. It imparts a gentle warmth to this simple cake, which is especially wonderful spread thickly with salted butter.
75g dried figs, cut in small dice
75g apricots, cut in small dice
75g prunes, cut in small dice
250ml hot black tea (I like Assam, but any strong tea is fine)
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp ras-el-hanout
¼ tsp salt
150g soft, light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
salted butter, for serving
1. Combine all the fruits in a bowl and pour over the hot tea. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight to allow the fruits to plump up and absorb the tea.
2. Preheat the oven to 190C (180C fan-forced), and line a 1-litre loaf tin with baking paper.
3. Sift the flour, ras-el-hanout and salt together in a large bowl, then add the brown sugar. Add the fruit mixture (including the liquid) and the egg, stirring until combined. The batter should be a dropping consistency – if it is too thick, add a little milk.
4. Scrape the cake mix into the prepared loaf tin and place in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cake rack to cool.
5. Slice and spread thickly with butter to serve. The cake will keep for up to three days, after which the slices may be toasted.