The tea loaf or the tea cake means different things in different parts of the world. In England a tea cake is generally a light bun style treat, more savoury than a cake. They are fruited and lightly spiced and usually contain some form of yeast. They are designed to be split in half through the middle and toasted under a grill, then spread with a good lashing of butter.
In the USA tea cakes are more like cookies or small cakes and the specifics vary depending on which part of the country you find yourself in. Culinary historians think the American tea cake may have its roots in African American slavery, adapted in the South by plantation workers from the English tea cake for their white owners. The plantation cooks would then take a few of the treats or make their own batch with whatever ingredients were available, hiding them in their apron pockets to give to whoever needed the cookie the most when working on the farms got hardest. The tea cakes soon became a much desired comfort food or special treat.
In Russia, tea cakes are melt-in-your-mouth buttery biscuits that contain finely chopped nuts and are coated in a dusting of white powdered sugar.
In India a teacake is more like a sponge cake, while in Australia a tea cake can be anything from a sweet cake to a baked sweet or savoury bread-style loaf.
Taking inspiration from all the different versions around the world, this recipe is simply a deliciously cakey, loaf shaped accompaniment to your cup of tea – whatever the time of day.
Here are a few more tea recipes you might like to try:
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