You know – people have said to me that I have old lady taste when it comes to cakes. At first I was offended, thinking of myself as an up to the minute woman in the prime of my life. Then, I thought about it. Thought about the cakes I love: – Scones – Spiced Walnut Loaf – Madeira Cake – Lemon Drizzle – Shortbread (ok, not really a cake, but I’m making a point here) – Mince Pies – Madelaines – Banana Loaf Whilst my friends are tucking into the latest trends of cupcakes (sorry, I just can’t, they’re nothing more than glorified fairy cakes!) or macaroons (I swear if I see another macaroon shop I’ll …….. I’lll ….Oh!) I hold up my head and order my scone with jam (no butter, no cream) with pride! I have learned to embrace the old lady within and will continue to go against the hype. This tray bake (old lady style or not) is delicious, the addition of the tea keeps it really moist) So as my old lady side would say “The nights are fair drawing in, so it must be time for some baking. Nothing too difficult though, just nice and easy…..” Preparation Time: 15 minutesCooking Time: 45 minutes to an hour Ingredients for 12 cake sizes or 24 bite sized servings250gr / 9 oz. dates, stoned and chopped roughly 40gr / 1.5 oz. unsalted butter 300 ml / water from a recently boiled kettle 6 x earl grey tea bags 2 x medium eggs 150gr / dark muscavado sugar 200gr / walnuts, roughly chopped 300gr / self raising flour Method Pre-heat your oven to 180°C / 350° Grease and line a 20cm / 7.5 in. x 30cm / 11.5 in. baking tray with greaseproof paper. In a bowl steep the tea bags in the hot water for about 5 minutes. Then, remove the teabags, squeezing them firmly to get as much flavour as possible out of them. Add the dates and the butter to the tea, set aside to infuse while you are busy with the rest of the mix. Whisk the eggs together with the sugar until it becomes a little fluffy. An electric whisk is easiest. When the tea mixture has cooled and the butter melted through it, add it to the sugar and egg mix. Add the walnuts and the flour and stir through with a wooden or metal spoon until everything is evenly incorporated. Pour the mix into your tray and place in the oven for about 45 minutes, check after 35. The tray bake is ready when it is evenly browned and you can pierce the middle with a cocktail stick and it comes out clean. Tips and Variations You don’t have to use tea as a flavour. You can substitute the tea for 2 x tsps of cinnamon. Serve with a little crème fraiche, clotted, double or whipped cream. Mascarpone is nice too.