Hidden amongst our cookbook collection is a battered copy of Culinary Treasures: Centennial 1867 – 1967 by the Saint Basil’s Ukrainian Women’s League. One recipe that I’m particularly fond of is the Cranberry Tea loaf, submitted by a Mrs. S. Topechka. I am a huge proponent of cranberries as I believe they are probably the only food that is capable of surviving a nuclear blast given how utterly gross they are in natural form. Therefore, I try to use fresh cranberries in everyday cooking whenever possible so when the time comes my body will be prepared to live off of them.
I mean, today I didn’t have cranberries, or nuts, or even the orange rind which the directions demand I use but Mrs. S. Topechka clearly forgot to include in the list of ingredients. What a beginner’s mistake.
Nonetheless, I decided that there is no better way to celebrate the 30 degree heat (85 for those of you who refuse to conform to the measurements the rest of the world use) than by turning on my oven and making a variant of Mrs. Topechka’s loaf with my own collection of ingredients.
First thing is first. Get rid of that garlic clove or get a garlic holder or something. Honestly. You have no dignity left.
Okay. Now you’ve done that, collect all these things, and don’t argue with me.
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. Baking soda
¾ cup cold, strong tea (Today we will be using DAVID’s TEA’s English Rose black tea, because I live dangerously)
1 egg beaten (or two if you forget to read the ingredients properly)
Some apricots. I don’t know. Maybe, like, a cup? It’s about a cup when I’m done with it I guess.
2 tbsp. cooking oil.
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
Take all your dry ingredients and sift them together. If you are like the average person and don’t own a sifter, just toss it into a bowl. We aren’t the Kardashian’s here. Sifters are for the rich and well-to-do.
Boil up some water and throw your tea into a hipster mason jar.
Add water. In reality you should have already done this, probably even before you started reading this recipe. It’s going to take forever to cool down and believe me, you want it to cool down. Whatever, we’ll make do.
Now while you’re waiting for your tea to cool, combine the rest of the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Okay, let’s check on that tea. Is it cool yet?
Okay, time for Plan B. Grab your dish towel or a cheese cloth if you are a billionaire I guess, and strain out some of that tea.
Now put that in the freezer. We don’t have time to waste.
While you are being the picture of patience, cut up those apricots. Using scissors is an easy way, unless they bend your scissors which totally didn’t happen here.
Good, you did it without cleaving your hand off. You want a medal or something?
Urgh, I’m so bored. Take the tea out, add more ice cubes.
Perfect. It’s cool now!
If you add it while it is still hot it will cook the eggs and you will have a nasty egg-tea combo, so try to avoid that.
Now slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until it is all mixed. Mrs. Topechka suggests you stir it until it is barely mixed.
Now add dem apricots. Again, stir it until just mixed.
Now spoon the whole monstrosity into an oiled pan and let sit for 20 minutes. Take this time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Yes, you could have done this first, but there is no point in having your oven on any longer than it needs to be.
Once 20 minutes have elapsed, put that tasty-ass loaf into the oven. Notice how Mrs. Topechka’s ghost, shamed by how you used the wrong sized pan, magically transferred your loaf to a better pan? PARANORMAL.
Let it cook for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out free of ectoplasm. In this case, 39 minutes was more than enough… Topechka.
Now wait for it to cool, cut into pieces, and enjoy! Make sure to leave three candles lit in your window that night so Mrs. Topechka’s ghost can find her way into your kitchen and get a slice for herself. If she doesn’t approve, she will enter your bedroom and devour your soul.