Raisin Tea Cake Recipe

British Bites

Classic british dishes updated for the modern American cook.

Raisin Tea Cake Recipe

[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

It's always nice to have something alongside a good cup of hot tea. Sandwiches, cookies, and buns are all great choices, but to me a nice slice of tea cake and butter is hard to beat. This is a simple cake, dotted with raisins soaked in tea—but put it next to a pot of tea, and take a moment to read a newspaper or stare out a window, and you'll be ready to get back to the real world feeling satisfied and invigorated.

This cake will sit well in a container in the fridge for about a week—which makes it an ideal thing to make on a Sunday afternoon when you have some time, so that you're ready when the urge for tea and cake strike later in the week.

If you're feeling creative, change out the raisins for chopped figs or currants, and the orange for a lemon; you could even swap out the tea for a flavored black tea like a chai. With that in mind, this is a good recipe to have when your pantry is a little empty as well; as long as you have eggs and butter and a couple other dry goods you're only a couple hours away from a tea cake.

  • Yield:Makes 1 loaf
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:2 hours


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tea bag (I like PG Tips, but any strong English tea would work)
  • 1/4 cup juice from 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing loaf pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar


  1. 1.

    Combine raisins, tea bag, and orange juice in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes. Remove and discard tea bag.

  2. 2.

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°F. Grease at 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with butter.

  3. 3.

    In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl cream together butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue to mix until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

  4. 4.

    Mix the butter mixture into the flour mixture until there are no longer any lumps, then add tea and raisins and stir until just incorporated. Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle with demerara sugar, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.