Un Petit Gateau Pour Le Grand Départ

 

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If you don’t live in Yorkshire you would be forgiven for not having heard about Le Grand Depart, but here in Leeds it’s the talk of the town: the opening stage of Le Tour de France, 2014.  Day one – Leeds to Harrogate via Harewood,  Skipton and Ripon.  Day two – York  to Sheffield via Keighley, Holmfirth and Halifax.

The first stage is a staggering 192 km.  I don’t really get kilometres, but even I realise that it is a lot of cycling and its o’er hill and down dale as well.  Le Tour goes on in a similar vein for three weeks, with only two rest days.  Sheer madness!  I’m beginning to think that Lance Armstrong might have been onto something, by using drugs to assist performance.  Anyway, those days are over, hopefully, and so what are the cyclists going to use instead, to keep them going?

Yorkshire Tea Bread of course.cyclist-with-cake

It contains caffeine, from the tea.  A legal stimulant.  The dried fruit are good sources of  B vitamins and trace elements, notably Potassium,  Magnesium, Manganese and Iron as well as fruit sugar, for a little pick me up.  The flour is carbohydrate (or are carbs bad for us this week?)  and the eggs will supply a goodly selection of amino acids.

Should you wish to make an offering to the gods of cycling, try this recipe, (bearing in mind that you might want to start the night before).

Ingredients

350g / 12 oz of dried mixed fruit – a mixture of currants, sultanas and raisins is customary but you can add a few glacé cherries, dates or figs.

400ml/ 14 fluid oz of tea, Yorkshire Tea, obviously, infused for about 5 minutes

2 medium free range eggs, beaten

75 g of brown sugar which could be light, dark or molasses sugar

270g self raising flour

(It is perfectly possible to make a gluten free version of this.  Use 270 g of a gluten free Self Raising flour blend but add  2 teaspoons of Baking Powder.  No need for any Xantham Gum.)

2 teaspoons of ground mixed spice

Method

Several hours before you intend to bake the tea bread, brew the tea and then add the mixed fruit to the tea and leave it to stand until all the liquid or almost all the liquid has been absorbed.

Just before you start, pre heat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190 degrees C for electric ovens (170 degrees C for fan assisted electric ovens) and line two 1 pound loaf tins with grease proof paper.  It’s not essential but but better to grease the paper with a little butter.

Tip the mixed fruit (including any excess liquid) into a bowl and add the beaten egg,  followed by the sugars and mix it all up thoroughly.   Sometimes the brown sugar can be quite lumpy and then masquerade as raisins,  so it might be worth mixing the sugar before you add it.

Sieve the flour together with the mixed spice (or gluten free flour plus baking powder and mixed spice)  into the mixture and mix it all up.

Nice and simple!  All that remains is to turn the mixture equally into the loaf tins and bake for between 40 and 50 minutes.  If you’re unsure about whether the tea bread is cooked, put a skewer or knife into the centre of the tea bread and it should come out cleanly if it  is properly cooked.  If there is uncooked mixture on the knife,  give it longer in the oven.   If you are using a larger loaf tin then allow a longer cooking time.

Leave the tea bread in the tins to cool before taking them out.

This tea bread is often served with butter, but there is really no need.  It is moist and delicious just as it is.   But the real question is: Will it help Chris Froome and Team Sky go faster?

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