These wintery loaf cakes are the perfect pick-me-ups in the cold weather

A loaf is seen as a more familiar partner that comforts us around the house, a day to day accompaniment in a lunch box or a pick me up or an cold winter’s evening.

A cake baked in a loaf tin has a different feel to it than one in a round tin. We very rarely use a loaf cake to celebrate a birthday and would never think of using one on a wedding day. It is puzzling, as the same ingredients can go into both.

A loaf is seen as a more familiar partner that comforts us around the house, a day to day accompaniment in a lunch box or a pick me up or an cold winter’s evening.

At this time of year it is nice to add rich warming flavours to baking, darker sugars and treacle all impart a burnt toffee like richness to these cakes. They give a deeper flavour when baked than a white sugar would give.

Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are also excellent winter flavours, that are being stirred into Christmas puddings, cakes and mincemeat at the moment, for the season ahead.

All of the following cakes benefit from the addition of all three. The ginger treacle loaf is laden with spices, but it is worth it, mixed with the dark treacle they make a wonderful loaf that lasts for quite a few days, in fact the flavours improve and blend after the first day.

Ginger, treacle loaf with cream cheese

These wintery loaf cakes are the perfect pick-me-ups in the cold weather

1 level tbs of ground ginger

Half a level tbs of ground cinnamon

2 tsp of ground nutmeg

175g of plain four

Half tsp of bread soda

2 tbs of milk

70g of muscovado sugar

75g of soft butter

75g of treacle

75g of golden syrup

1 egg

Cream cheese icing - optional

100g of cream cheese

1 tbs of honey

Half tsp of lemon juice

Half tsp of vanilla essence

25g of icing sugar

Heat oven to 170D and line a 0.9kg loaf tin with baking parchment.

Place the spices and flour into a sieve and sieve them into a large bowl.

Mix the bread soda and milk and set aside.

Place the sugar, butter, treacle and golden syrup and 75ml of water into a heavy based saucepan and gently heat and stir until they are all melted together.

On a low setting on your mixer beat the syrup into the flour. Add the egg and then the milk with soda.

Scoop the mixture into your prepared loaf tin and smooth it out on top.

Bake for and hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow it to cool in the tin.

For the icing: Mix all of the ingredients with the ballon attachment of your mixer until it is smooth and easy to spread.

Spread a layer on top of the cooled cake and sprinkle with some chopped nuts.

Apple loaf with yogurt and spices

These wintery loaf cakes are the perfect pick-me-ups in the cold weather

175g of butter, softened

175g of golden sugar

2 tsp of vanilla essence

2 eggs

225g of self raising flour

4 tbs of natural yogurt

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

½ tsp of ground nutmeg

½ tsp of ground ginger

2 bitter apples, peeled and cored then chopped into small cubes

50g of hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees and line a 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Stir the vanilla into the eggs and lightly beat. Add them slowly to the butter mixture.

Add the flour, yogurt, spices, apple and nuts and stir everything together.

Scoop into your prepared tin and bake one hour and twenty minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is golden on top. Allow to cool in the tin.

Earl grey, nutty tea brack

These wintery loaf cakes are the perfect pick-me-ups in the cold weather

150g of sultanas

150g of golden raisins

50g of soft dried figs

100g of chopped dates, any stones removed

300mls of warm, very strong earl grey tea

1 egg, lightly whisked

150g of soft brown sugar

200g of self-raising flour

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 tsp of ground nutmeg

1 tsp of ground ginger

1 tbs of whiskey

1 tbs of natural yogurt

a generous handful of mixed nuts, chopped

2 tbs of honey

For the best results it is best to soak the fruit over night in the tea until they are soft and plump.

Pour the warm tea over them and cover the bowl and set aside until morning.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Add the egg, sugar, flour, spices, whiskey, yogurt and nuts to the fruit and mix with a wooden spoon and flatten the mixture.

Sprinkle a few more nuts on top and bake for and hour and a half or until a skewer comes out clean.

While it is still warm brush the honey over the top.

Allow to cool in the tin.

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