I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but it's the perfect spring day here. The sun is shining and the garden is bursting with blossom. It makes you want to take afternoon tea in the garden.
Afternoon tea can be a grand affair but as far as I am concerned there are only two things you really need...tea, of course...and CAKE!
Today's tea cake is Vanilla Loaf Cake a la Nigella, based on a modified version of her 'Mother-In-Law's' Madeira Cake.
Vanilla Loaf Cake
240 grams baking margarine
200 grams caster sugar
3 large eggs - room temperature
210 grams self-raising flour
90 grams plain flour
2 or 3 teaspoons good vanilla extract
Begin by buttering a 9x5 inch loaf pan, then line it with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well to combine. Add a spoonful of flour with each egg to keep the batter from splitting. Mix in the remaining flour and the vanilla. Do not over- beat or you will make the cake tough. The batter only needs to be mixed until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
Spread the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of caster sugar over the top of the batter. Bake for about 1 hour or until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
The cake will look something like this with a crunchy sugar crust and a soft moist crumb. Let the cake cool in the tin before cutting it into thick slices.
We like it just as it is. You could add a few fresh berries and some cream if you like.... the flowers are, of course, optional!