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James Morton's tea loaf

by Sarah Alcock

Tonight The Great British Bake Off bakers will be battling with bread recipes and it's safe to say that Paul Hollywood won't be as soft as dough on the contestants.

To get in the bread challenge mood, we wanted to share former GBBO star James Morton's delicious tea loaf, which is featured in our October issue (in store tomorrow). So put on your finest Fair Isle jumper à la James and bake it for a family afternoon tea – it's delicious with butter and jam...


Tea Loaf - Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves

Prep 20 mins, Total time Up to 16 hrs, including overnight proving

Recipe taken from Brilliant Bread by James Morton (Ebury Press, £20)

Take your time with this recipe. Adding fat, spices and fruit to the dough slows the activity of the yeast and the gluten development, so it's slower to rise. For a sweet bread with flavour to blow your socks off, rest the dough for ages, ideally in the fridge. You can't rush this one.


  • 500g strong white flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 10g table salt
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast-action yeast
  • 260g full-fat milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground or grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • grated zest of ½ orange
  • 100g raisins (or dried fruit of your choice)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt


  1. In a large bowl, weigh the flour and sugar. With your fingers, rub in the salt at one side and the dried yeast on the opposite side, as the salt can stop the yeast working.
  2. Add the milk and eggs, and mix together until it forms a coherent dough (use your dough to mop up any flour sticking to the side of the bowl).
  3. Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and rest in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes, or until noticeably increased in size.
  4. Inside the bowl, rub the soft butter into the dough and repeatedly fold it over until the butter is completely incorporated.
  5. Add the spices, orange zest and raisins, and incorporate them by folding your dough over itself repeatedly. Keep going until your dough is a consistent colour.
  6. Rest the dough until it has doubled in size, probably around 1 hour or so. This might take a little longer due to the spice barrage you have just subjected your yeast to.
  7. Once rested, turn the dough out on to a very lightly floured surface and shape for a loaf tin. Make sure your tin is well greased right into the corners with butter. You’ll need a loaf tin measuring 17 x 10cm and 9cm high (about 1.6 litre capacity).
  8. Transfer your loaf to the tin to prove and loosely cover with lightly oiled clingfilm.
  9. If you want an amazing loaf, put your tin in the fridge for 8-12 hours, preferably overnight. In this cold environment the yeast will work much slower to produce subtle flavours that propel this bread to a whole new level of tastiness.
  10. If you'd rather, this prove can equally be brisk & instead you can put the dough in the fridge for the initial resting stage.
  11. Preheat your oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7, at least 20 minutes in advance.
  12. Once proved, brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake in the tin on a preheated baking tray on the lowest shelf for 30-40 minutes, until very dark brown and shiny.

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