Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Little Bit of Summer



We had a brief spell of hot weather last week that had us all checking our winter coats into the dry cleaners, shaking out the summer skirts and exfoliating like mad in preparation for the fake-tan-athon that is an English summer. Of course, as soon as we were planning barbecues and throwing open the doors to let in the sun - it disappeared behind a damp bank of grey cloud and drenched our hopes of alfresco fun with the sort of light but persistent rain we enjoy so often these days as soon as it gets warm.

To keep my spirits up and pretend that summer was merely a bag of frozen berries away, I made some fruit studded bread, using the last of some impulsively purchased Spanish cherries (yes, I know) and some reassuringly British frozen raspberries. The berries bleed into the bread, the way a blueberry does into a muffin, and stud each slice as it is cut.

Now don't be expecting the sort of bread that you can slice and toast - this is really more of a cake than a bread in texture, a moist cake at that. If you want something firmer and drier then add more almonds and less  butter. It was nutritious enough for a thick slice to form the major part of Fin's lunch the next day - a very exciting prospect for a boy convinced that he was somehow cheating the system by finding only vegetables and cake in his tuck-box.

I enjoyed a generous slice for breakfast, but you could dress it up with some fresh berries and a drizzle of blossom honey or cream and have it for dessert, or afternoon tea. You know I'm no stickler for tradition where meals are concerned. Have it when you fancy and kid yourself that summer really is here. Maybe if we all pretend?......

Raspberry Tea-bread

1 very ripe banana mashed
8oz mixed nut meals (I used 2oz each of pecan, brazil, hazel and almond)
3oz soft butter
2 tsp nut butter (hazel or almond)
1 dessertspoon honey
3 large eggs
juice half a lime, or lemon
1 tsp lemon or lime zest
1 handful stoned, halved cherries
1 handful frozen or fresh raspberries
1 small handful black raisins
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar (or 2 tsp cider vinegar for SCD)


Line a 1lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper and brush with oil. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan assisted) 175C without fan.

In a food processor or using an electric hand whisk, blend butter, honey, nut butter, zest, cream of tartar/vinegar and lime/lemon juice until light and fluffy. 

Add the mashed banana and beat until incorporated. 

Beat in a tablespoon of nut meal and then one egg. Repeat until all eggs are beaten in.

Stir in bicarb, remaining nut meal and raisins. 

Spoon a third of the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with half the cherries and half the raspberries. Spoon another third of the mixture on top and smooth gently. Sprinkle over the remaining berries and cover with the rest of the mixture, smoothing over the top to finish.

Bake for 60 - 75 mins until golden brown on top, firm to the touch and a cake probe comes out cleanish. Allow to cool for 10-15 mins and then loosen and lift out of the tin using the spare overlap of paper. 

Cool completely on a rack and then gently remove paper using a knife to help. Wrap in fresh greaseproof and store in an airtight container for up to three days, or slice and freeze immediately.