This gluten free tea loaf is a light fruit loaf cake, traditionally served at tea time. The fruit is soaked in tea, which makes it moist and delicious. There's no added fat, so gluten free fruit loaf cake is also dairy free, and relatively low in calories. But it's tasty and delicious, and perfect with an afternoon cuppa (or healthy iced tea in the summer!).
What you'll love about this recipe
- Gluten free and dairy free, this fruit loaf cake is delicious enough to be enjoyed by all the family.
- Keeps well and easy to transport making it perfect for lunchbox treats.
- Healthy treat - there's no added fats, and only 3 tablespoons of added sugar. There's also plenty of fibre in the cake which helps to stabilise blood sugar and keep you feeling full.
- This gluten free tea loaf is also super easy to make with everyday ingredients. You'll just need one pan, a spoon and a basic loaf tin.
If you are looking for a richer fruit cake, you can also use gluten free flour in this no added sugar fruit cake.
Fruit loaf ingredients
Dried fruit. You can either use mixed dried fruit, or make up your own preferred mix with sultanas, raisins, currants etc. You can also include fruits such as prunes, dates and cherries if you like - cut them into pieces about the size of a raisin.
Tea. Traditionally a tea loaf is made with builder's or black tea. However, I used rooibos which is my regular brew, and it's natural sweetness works well in the recipe. You could also use a tea such as earl grey which is flavoured with bergamot and gives the cake a slight orangey tang. If you use your own regular tea, you know it'll complement the tea loaf perfectly when you sit down for a cuppa. Make sure that you use a strong brew though, so add twice as much tea or teabags as you would normally.
Cinnamon is entirely optional, but if you like the flavour it works really well in this gluten free fruit loaf recipe. You could also use mixed spice.
Gluten free plain flour is essential for this gluten free tea loaf. I used a standard blend which is widely available in the supermarkets. It contains a mix of rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat flours. There's no xanthan gum in the flour, and it's not necessary in this recipe.
Ground flaxseed. I've added flaxseed to the cake as it provides a nice nutty flavour, adds a good texture and stops the cake being too crumbly. Flaxseed is also really healthy - it's a good source of omega 3, and is rich in fibre. The texture of gluten free flour always seems very fine and processed to me, so I like to add back in a bit of goodness! Wheat flour is often fortified with vitamins and minerals, so including flaxseed with your gluten free flour mix helps to make it more nutritious too.
I bought ready ground flaxmeal, but if you have a high powered blender, you could blend the flax seeds yourself.
Baking powder. This tea bread won't rise hugely, but a little baking powder helps the texture.
Sugar. Dried fruit is naturally very sweet, so you won't need to add much extra sugar to the recipe. You can use either castor sugar or brown sugar.
Eggs. These are essential to bind the mixture together. I'm afraid I haven't tried to make this gluten free tea loaf with an egg replacer.
How to make gluten free tea loaf
It's really easy to make this tea bread recipe, and there'll only be one pan to wash up:)
Pour the hot tea and the dried fruit into a large pan. Bring the mixture up to the boil, and switch off the heat. Leave to cool slightly whilst you weigh out the ingredients and prep the cake tin.
If you prefer, you can soak the fruit overnight, or for a few hours during the day. Cover the pan so that all the liquid doesn't evaporate.
Prepare a 1 lb/450 g loaf tin. Grease it lightly, and add some baking paper to the base so that it's easier to remove the cooked cake.
Add the flour, flaxseed, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder to the saucepan, and stir well. The mixture will be quite dry at this point.
Add the eggs, and mix in well.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees (140 fan) for 50 minutes.
The fruit loaf should be firm and nut brown. If you are not sure whether it is completely cooked, slide a skewer into the centre of the cake. It should come out clean, without any raw mixture on the skewer.
If you want to make double the mixture, use a 2 lb/900 g loaf tin and bake the cake for an hour and a quarter.
Serving and storage
This gluten free tea loaf is perfect as it is with a cup of your favourite tea. But if you like, you could also serve it with butter. (You might also like to check out this round up of gluten free afternoon tea recipes.)
Fruit loaf cake stores really well for up to a week in an airtight container. Like many fruit cakes, the flavour gets even better if you manage to save any for more than a day;)
The tea loaf also freezes well. You could make double and freeze one for another time, or freeze individual slices.
Frequently asked questions
Tea loaf is a light fruit cake cooked in a loaf tin. The fruit is soaked first in tea, which makes the cake moist and the fruit juicy. Tea loaf (or tea bread as it is sometimes called) is an English recipe, but the Welsh recipe bara brith is very similar.
Yes, tea loaf freezes really well. Make sure it's well wrapped - you can either wrap individual slices, or the whole loaf.
If you are looking for a low calorie cake, gluten free tea loaf is a good choice. This recipe has just 166 calories per slice.
Healthy gluten free recipes
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Gluten Free Tea Loaf
- large saucepan
- 1 lb/ 450 g loaf tin
- baking paper
- 300 g mixed dried fruit, sultanas or raisins
- 250 ml strong tea
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 150 g gluten free plain flour
- 50 g ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (GF)
- 50 g castor sugar or use brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- Add the brewed tea and dried fruit to a large pan and bring to the boil. Switch off the heat and set aside.
- Grease a 1 lb/450 g loaf tin, and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (140 fan).
- Add the flour, flaxseed, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder to the dried fruit and tea and stir well to mix.
- Add the eggs to the mixture, and stir well.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for 50 minutes. When cooked, the loaf cake will be firm to the touch and nut brown.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the cake from the tin and leave to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Please note nutritional information is for guidance only