To make tea, place 1 English breakfast tea bag into a heatproof jug. Pour over 3⁄4 cup boiling water. Stand for 2 minutes. Remove and squeeze bag. Discard. Loaf can be made up to four days ahead. Store in an airtight container.
250g packet pitted dates (1 1⁄2 cups), halved
3⁄4 cup hot black tea
75g unsalted butter, finely chopped
3⁄4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1⁄2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Spreadable butter, to serve (optional)
Grease a 12cm x 22cm medium loaf pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 4cm above pan edges.
2 Combine the dates, tea, butter and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until butter is melted. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Transfer to a large, heatproof bowl. Stand for 15 minutes.
3 Stir eggs into date mixture. Sift combined our, spice and soda over the top. Stir until combined. Stir in 3⁄4 cup of the walnuts. Spoon into the prepared pan. Smooth over top. Sprinkle with remaining walnuts.
4 Cook in a moderately slow oven (160C) for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. 5 Serve loaf warm or at room temperature with butter.