One of my favourite places in the world is Scotland. I lived there as a child and I totally fell in love with the place. It holds a particularly special place in my heart. There is something very magical about the country. The people are some of the most friendly and kind people I’ve ever met. I always feel a sense of peace and tranquility when I am there. I feel like I’m home.
I use to live in Scotland as a child, only for a few years. As a child, I remember fondly of the knee high snow during the winter – that’s proper snow, not like the dandruff specks of snow we get here in London. My brother trapping birds in his makeshift cardboard bird trap and me doing cartwheels in our big garden during the summer. My mother used to grow vegetables in the back garden with the different shades of green that flooded the vegetables patches, the little hole in the hedge that I use to climb through to get to the neighbours garden just so I could play with my friend and discovering the little birds nest in the privet hedge, these little blue baby birds with their minute chirping waiting for their mother to come back with worm food. So many great memories. Sometimes when London gets a bit too opressive, I think back to Scotland and what it would have been like if my parents had stayed there.
My parents came over to England in the 70’s as refugees fleeing from the Vietnam war. They were relocated to Bathgate in Scotland, then to Fife. I was about two or three years old. It was a happy time for us as a family. Then I remember my mother telling me one day that we were moving … to London. I think I was about 5 or 6 years old. I vaguely remember getting on a coach in the middle of the night. That’s all I remember of the journey. Blurred images of the coach journey flicker through my mind at times. The next thing I know, we were in London. My family struggled with London. I think for my parents it was hard work trying to raise a family in the capital. Everything was more expensive and everyone was in everyone elses pockets. There was no sense of space growing up on a council estate. I went from living in a large 3 bedroom house with big gardens to being thrown into a council estate on the fourth floor in one of the worst boroughs in London at that time. It was hard.
I’ve been back to Scotland a few times since then. Whenever I go to Scotland, I always visit my favourite Scottish family. They looked after us when my parents first came over from Vietnam as refugees. The members of the local church were told that a small influx of refugees where to be relocated in the area. My favourite family befriended us when they caught sight of my mother trying to put up curtains. They swiftly came knocking on our door to lend a helping hand. It’s such an endearing story. We have stayed in touch all these years.
Last year, on our annual family roadtrip, we went to Glasgow in Scotland and met up with them for dinner. I was served a slice of the most amazing fruit loaf. I don’t normally like fruit loaf or those types of traditional rich cakes, but this one was amazing! It was so moist and flavoursome. I had to ask for the recipe. It’s an old family recipe … these ones are always the best.
Here is my attempt at making Grandma’s Fruity Tea Loaf, this was a trial and error attempt so bare with me …
So the recipe tells me that firstly I needed to boil the mixed fruit in a pan with a cup of tea. I wasn’t sure if a cup meant an American measuring cup or just a normal English cup of tea? So I went with an English cup of tea (without the milk). I brewed an Earl Grey tea bag in the cup for a minute or two then discarded it. I poured the tea into the pan and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Then I took it off the heat to cool slightly.
I added a few cubes of butter to the mixture and allowed it to melt before giving it a good old mix.
In a big bowl I sifted some self-raising flour, sugar and some mixed spice and gave this a little mix with a spoon.
I added the dry ingredients into the fruity tea mixture and stirred well until it was all combined.
I added eggs to the pan and mixed the batter well. The mixture was very loose. Was it suppose to be like that?
I transferred the batter to a lined 2lb loaf tin and popped it in the oven to cook for about 50 minutes.
I allowed it to cool completely before turning out.
VERDICT: Ok, so the cake looks great … and smells great. It was a little on the dense side which I don’t remember it being. I think the batter is too thin, that’s why the fruit all sank to the bottom … or maybe I didn’t cook it for long enough?
Baking is a science … and a lot of trial and error. But when you have worked hard on perfecting the recipe, it is a joy to bake everytime. So I will keep trying this fruity tea loaf and will update you when I have perfected it.
What cake recipes have you been trying to perfect lately?
See you next week!
~ The Cake Lady xxx