Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quick Jam Tea Cake

The Good Cook company challenged us to make something great using only pantry ingredients. When you have to bake quickly, there's nothing better than self-rising flour. It has baking powder and salt already mixed into it, and I always have some on hand. If you don't have self-rising flour and have a recipe that calls for it, you can make your own: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. These quick tea cakes with jam are a case in point: 57 minutes from the time I turned on the oven to the time I had the pan cooling on a rack. That's not bad!

I was sent a wonderful set of equipment to use and review. I found that the mixing bowl, with its handy-grab handle and its nonslip ring on the bottom, was perfect to mix the dry ingredients. That bowl is now the first one I pick out of the cupboard. I chose a 4-cup loaf pan, which makes 4 mini loaves, each with a 1 1/2 cup capacity. That meant I could make a one-loaf tea cake, but it would bake in less time, because the loaves were smaller.

These cakes went together so quickly that I doubled down and baked two flavors: One vanilla cake with strawberry jam, and one chocolate cake with apricot jam. I make my own jams and put them up in 8-ounce jars, so it was a matter of a moment to grab a jar from the cupboard. Pantry panic, phooey - we've got this covered.

Quick Jam Tea Cake
by Maurita 

4 small loaves (or would make 1 regular loaf)

2 cups self-rising flour (NOTE: For the chocolate version, reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups, and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup jam, your choice of flavors
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a loaf pan liberally (I used the Good Cook 4-Cup Loaf Pan.)

I don't bother sifting, but I do stir the flour well - put it in a bowl and fluff it up with a fork to make sure that there are no lumps at all. If you're making the chocolate version, add the cocoa powder to the flour and fluff them both.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light in color and texture. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla, jam, and milk.

Stir the flour (and cocoa if using) into this wet mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into prepared pan, and bake. Using the 4-cup loaf pan, the mini loaves took 40-45 minutes. A full sized loaf would take 55-65 minutes. Test with a toothpick: When inserted into the center, it should come out clean.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool fully. If you need to transport the tea cake while it's still warm, tote it in the pan, covered with a towel. When the cake is completely cooled, wrap it in waxed paper or store in an airtight tin.

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