A perfect tea cake: fluffy, light, unfussy – and simple to make
I love making this gorgeously moist cake that’s perfect with a cup of tea
Marmalade yoghurt tea cake: delicious and simple to make. Photograph: Harry Weir
I adore tea cakes. These little sweet sliceable loaves are a cinch to make. They can be thrown together in one bowl, piled into a loaf tin and baked in half an hour. A loaf tin is an essential piece of kit, and allows you to make a million and one things without needing any other specialist baking equipment or fancy tins.
There are so many variations on what you can make or bake in a loaf tin, such as breads, babkas, sponges, rich fruit cakes and even iced parfaits, but my favourite thing to bake is Madeira-type loaf cakes. You know the ones: fluffy, light, and unfussy, the type of cakes that are perfect with a cup of tea.
While you can experiment with a multitude of flavours and combinations, I love making simple tea cakes that are neutral in flavour with subtle fragrances such as citrus or orange blossom added. This marmalade yoghurt cake is delicious – it’s lovely and light, scented with a mix of lemon and orange zests, and glazed with a sweet and sticky orange marmalade, giving it a glossy coating.
The key ingredient though is the yoghurt, which keeps the cake gorgeously moist, and gives a beautiful tang. You can use sour cream or buttermilk in place of yoghurt, as they do more or less the same job here, but I always have a large tub of yoghurt in my fridge, and I prefer the texture it gives the cake.
I love this recipe, I always find so many ways to use the cake. It is gorgeous for breakfast, served with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt, a few slivered almonds and a handful of fresh blueberries, or spread with home-made curd and eaten with a coffee for elevenses when the sweet snack munchies strike. It can be broken into chunks and piled into glasses, doused with orange or blackcurrant liqueur, and topped with soft cream and fruit compote for a quick trifle.
This tea cake keeps particularly well and will stay moist for up to three days if stored in an airtight container, but if you find you have a slice or two left at the end of the week, it is great made into “pain perdu” or French toast; sliced and soaked in a mixture of egg, vanilla and cream or milk, and slowly fried in butter until crisp.
You can freeze the loaf for a later date, leaving it to defrost at room temperature for a few hours before serving, or if you prefer, slice it into thick slabs and freeze individually, to have a slice of tasty tea cake on standby whenever the craving strikes.