Today is the Spring Equinox, or Ostara, a point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year. Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But the year is now waxing and at this moment light defeats the dark. The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer.
Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honoured with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth. It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved, and indeed the naming of the hormone Eostrogen, essential to women’s fertility. The Goddess Ostara has the shoulders and head of a hare, the forerunner to the Easter Bunny.
This Ostara Earl Grey Tea Loaf is a simple, light, fruity bread recipe designed to use up the winter stores, clear the cupboard ready for spring and use the symbol of the festival – the egg! You can play around with the fruit and decorative ingredients of this recipe (to use stores) as long as you keep the sugar, flour and egg the same.
- Earl Grey Tea Bags
- 250g combination of dried fruits such as sultana, currants and apricots
- 60g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 275g plain flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 t sp salt
- 1 oranges, 1 finely grated into a zest
- Porridge Oats/Walnuts/Pecans optional to decorate.
- Dark Chocolate (optional)
- 2 Large Free Range Eggs, beaten
1. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
2. Place the tea bags in a medium-sized saucepan and pour over 300ml just-boiled water. Turn on the heat and simmer for 2 minutes then lift out and discard the tea bags. Stir in the fruit and muscovado sugar and simmer for another 1 minute then transfer to a large, heat proof mixing bowl. To skip this stage you can soak the fruit in 150ml of warm tea and the sugar the night before.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, salt and grated orange zest.
4. Stir the eggs into the cooling tea mix followed by the dry ingredients. If you want your loaf to look rustic you can sprinkle the oats on the surface, and/or even some walnuts or pecans.Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).
5. If you want the chocolate on top, just melt 100g of dark organic chocolate over a bain marie when the loaf has cooled. When the chocolate has melted take a spoon and flick back and forward across the top of the loaf.
Enjoy lightly toasted with your favorite cup of tea x