From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
100 g (4oz) sultanas
100 g (4oz) currants or raisins
50 g (2oz) glace cherries, chopped
50 g (2oz) cut mixed peel
good splash irish whiskey
300 ml (1/2 pint) strong hot tea
225 g (8oz) light brown sugar
a little sunflower oil, for greasing
275 g (10oz) self-raising flour
good pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 tblsp clear honey
farmhouse butter, to serve
Place the sultanas in a large bowl with the currants or raisins, glace cherries, mixed peel and whiskey. Pour over the tea and then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Cover with a plate and leave overnight to allow all the fruit to plump up.
Preheat the oven to 150C (300F/Gas 2). Lightly grease a 900g (2lb) non-stick loaf tin with sunflower oil and then base line with parchment paper. Sieve the flour and nutmeg into a bowl and then stir into the soaked fruit mixture with the egg until evenly combined. Turn into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until well risen and firm to the touch. A fine skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Allow the tea bread to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out. Brush the top with the honey and then leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into slices and spread with butter to serve.