It is told that the illustrious, and slightly scary sounding, Nottinghamshire Women’s Institute Catering Committee devised this fruit loaf for the Notts County Show held at the Newark Showground every May. I don’t have any dates for this recipe, it appears in Angela Greary’s 1994 local recipes book and follows a similar fruitcake recipe from Southwell, dated 1890.
However, it is clearly a very traditional and, indeed, a very simple recipe. Given the array of food choices and exotic street food that characterise so many shows and festivals nowadays (not that I am complaining, you understand 😊) it is nice to think that such a simple and traditional tea loaf was the talk of the show. Apparently it was sold in the refreshment tent, sliced and buttered (hence the name) and was always a popular choice. This recipe (in post-Brexit Imperial measures, I’m afraid) makes two solid loaves or cakes (put one in the freezer or store in an airtight tin).
1 and a half lbs mixed dried fruit, 3/4 pint hot tea (or boiling water), 4oz of butter (or margarine), 80z soft brown sugar, 1 egg, 1lb self-raising flour.
Place the fruit, butter and sugar into a bowl. Pour on the hot tea and leave to stand overnight (or for around 8 hrs).
The next morning, beat the egg and add to the mixture. Seive in the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
Bake in two buttered (and lined) loaf or cake tins at 180C for approximatly an hour.
The original recipe suggests bake for an hour and a half but I took mine out at about 1hr 10mins as they were catching. I also used butter rather than margarine which was in the original.
This is a simple local cake, with a traditional flavour, my mum, who is 80, loved it with cheese, so maybe it is a “cut and butter, with cheese cake”. Give it a go!