My dear friend Katia recently asked me which drugs I am on. It turns out she was referring to my manic demeanour and inability to relax.
Although I’m not pin thin and twitchy à la overactive thyroid, inside my head it buzzes and I’m not too good at sitting still. Which is why I was baking a cake for Katia after going for a walk in the woods with six kids and just before I cooked a vegetable chilli over the fire in a pot.
In my defence I’m much better than I used to be, because when I had three kids under the age of three and a half, I still thought I could be a lovely Mummy. Oh novice error.
One memorable morning I think there was painting with sunflower pollen and blackberry juice. Does that make you want to vomit? And one year I made my Christmas decorations. To avoid the housework there were outings to the beach, the park, the zoo, the playground...
Be. Quiet. White. Noise.
I’m wiser now because I know that benign neglect is the way forward. If my fourth child wants to paint with blackberry juice, well she knows where the bush is.
But one thing I learnt from the ‘Crazy Years’ is the art of making cake on the hoof and sort of in my sleep. Impressive, no?
Teabread is the manic mum’s best friend. Weigh the ingredients the night before, let the fruit soak in tea overnight and if you get up at 5am you can have it baked in time for the school run. I should call it Mental Manic Teabread. And very good it is too with a slick of vegan margarine. I made this for Katia in the summer and she approved.
So go forth and bake like revved up ecstasy heads my lovelies, relaxing is for the afterlife and teabread is for today.
It is so satisfying to have teabread in your life. It works for breakfast, for lunch, for an afternoon snack... it just works. And it can be made without refined sugar if that is your thing.
50g dried cranberries/chopped dates/chopped apricots
175g soft brown sugar OR 150g honey
300ml tea (black tea, green tea, camomile tea)
1 tsp mixed spice
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100 - 150ml Rice milk/other milk
Egg free, dairy free, gluten free
Egg replacing mix:
1 heaped tsp Orgran no egg egg replacer
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds
2 tbsps oil
¼ tsp xanthan or guar gum
3 tbsps rice milk
Either: 225g Doves Farm Plain Flour
Or: 125g rice flour + 50g potato flour + 50g tapioca flour
Gluten free with eggs
Use 1 egg in place of the egg-replacing mix
With wheat flour
Use 225g of plain wheat flour
Sugar to sprinkle on top
- Make 300ml of tea and squeeze out the teabags so that you have a strong brew. Place the fruit and sugar/honey into a large mixing bowl and add the tea. Mix to combine, cover and leave overnight
- If using the egg replacing mix, combine all the ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps, set aside
- Grease and line a medium loaf tin (1 litre/ 2 pint ish) with baking parchment and heat oven to 170˚celsius
- Add either the egg or the egg-replacing mix to the bowl of fruit, sugar and tea and stir
- Add the flour(s), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and mixed spice and stir. Add enough rice milk/milk to give a loose cake mix. Pretty vague description I know, but not really stiff, quite soft, will drop relatively quickly from the spoon. This would be so much easier to describe if I had my own TV show
- Sprinkle the surface of the cake with extra sugar if you wish and place in the oven and bake for 45 mins to an hour. Or it may take longer and you may have to cover the tin with aluminium foil to prevent the top from burning and to make sure the middle is cooked. Ovens are weird, aren’t they? It is cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
- Is my grammar lapsing? I might have been drinking red wine
- Leave cake to cool in the tin and then eat great big wedges of it as you try and do five things at once
- But don’t do painting with blackberry juice and sunflower pollen. That will make me heave