I began making tea breads four years ago in 2013 when Keith decided he would like to lose some weight. We had just returned from a family holiday and he hadn’t felt happy with himself, his clothes were tight and he was restricted in what he could wear. Keith and I had been married for 15 years and his weight had slowly crept up, he had always taken pride in himself and would always buy really nice clothes so he always looked trendy and attractive when we went out somewhere.
I think it is very difficult for anybody when they put on weight to even contemplate getting it off again, but even more difficult if you are a farmer. One reason being there is absolutely no possibility of going to the gym to help get the weight off; after a long day working outside in a physical job the last thing you want to do is exercise. Also because we milk cows on the farm we always eat our main meal in the evening, late in evening after 7pm and working all those hours makes you hungry, very hungry. The thought of the evening meal is sometimes the only thing that keeps you going. If you aren’t lucky enough to be one of those people who can eat whatever they like and as much of it as you like and never put weight on, then eating more than what you burn off, over time, increases your weight. Farming can be very physical but it doesn’t always involve running around and raising the heart rate, it often can mean standing in a pen treating sheep for hours on end, or sitting on a tractor for long hours with only eating to break the boredom.
But after a year of making very simple changes to his diet he eventually lost 3 stone and maintained it. Men can actually be more cruel than women in relation to appearance cracks. What to some might be seen as banter can actually be pretty hurtful to others. Before Keith lost weight some of his so called friends had called him fat or made comments about his weight. He certainly wasn’t obese and I thought that was incredibly cruel. Then afterwards when he lost the weight people asked me if I was starving him, or if he was ill. For goodness sake some people don’t think before they open their mouths. I am very glad he wasn’t ill because for all they knew he could have been. But it’s best to remember you can’t win with everyone and to just stay focussed on your own goals and try to win your own battles. And that’s exactly what Keith did he looked and felt amazing afterwards and he got his confidence back.
Before the diet Keith used to eat a couple of slices of toast every morning for breakfast so he substituted the toast for weetabix. At lunchtime he used to have two rounds of sandwiches for lunch, crisps, some cake and a biscuit. He cut down to one really good sandwich which consisted of sandwich meat, coleslaw and lettuce; he stopped eating cake and replaced it with a good slice of tea loaf instead because it contains no fat and very little sugar. His evening meals remained the same but I reduced the portions of carbs and protein a little and gave him more salad and vegetables. The only other change he made was his evening snack became an apple and a yoghurt instead of biscuits and I made his flask with half milk half water instead of 100% full fat milk and cut a sugar out.
My mother in law has always dieted and never had a lot of success with them, at first both of my in laws were a little apprehensive and didn’t want to see Keith losing so much weight even though they knew it would be healthier for him to do so. But after he had lost the weight and he had explained how he had done it my mother in law swore the tea loaves were what made the huge difference and said she’d have to start eating them too if thats how he did it. Consequently the tea loaves came to be known as a slimming aid in our house and I still make them every week for us all to eat.
I thought it would be nice to share the recipe as I have been asked many times and although I throw all sorts in, in guessed quantities I have tried to give you an idea of the measured amounts for your own use.
Fruit & nut combinations I use regularly
- cherry & raisin
- date, walnut and mixed fruit
Fruits I sometimes experiment with
- fig, apricot, pecan, apple, banana, sultana
Or throw in what you like or have because it will still taste good – I promise!
4 good handfuls dried fruit (If I had to put a figure on it 16 oz) 1 large egg, 350ml boiling water, 2 tea bags (I use Earl Grey or Lady Grey but you can use your favourite tea) , 8 oz self-raising flour
2 – 4 oz soft dark brown sugar
- Soak fruit in 400ml of tea over night. I put the tea bags in with the fruit and pour the water over the top.
- The next day remove the tea bags and add the flour and egg (sugar if you wish) and give it a really good mix round until the flour and fruit are mixed together evenly. If the mix seems very runny add a bit more flour, if its a little dry add a touch more water.
- Put all the mixture into a 2lb loaf tin. I use loaf tin liners for easiness, they also keep the bake moist and lift out of the tin very easily.
- Bake for 30 mins at 180 degrees then turn the loaf around in the oven and bake for a further 10 mins.
- Next cover the loaf with foil and bake for another 10 mins. (50mins altogether)
- Remove the loaf and cool on a wire rack.
I generally make and bake two loaves at a time, both side by side in the same oven. I use one loaf and freeze the other by wrapping it tightly in cling film, still in the liner. The loaf will keep beautifully and is still very moist when defrosted.
You can serve it with butter or without and it is beautiful with a chunk of mature cheddar or any of your own favourite cheese.
Please let me know how you get on.