Saturday, 23 October 2010

A Recipe And A Little Bit Of Irish Tradition.

As today is the first day of the Mid-Term Break, we are getting into the swing of Halloween. Last year was a complete non-event as we'd had a week of sickly children and an exhausted Mama, and nothing got done in preparation. So this year we have a lot to make up for!

So first I want to share this recipe with you that I first posted here two years ago. If you like fruit bread then I promise you will love this. The tea makes it incredibly moist and it is dense with juicy fruit.
(I have yet to take the time to find a way of making this gluten-free but maybe someday...)

Barm Brack, or Bara Brith in Wales, means Speckled Bread, and is basically a Tea Brack. It is a traditional fruit cake, somewhere between bread and cake, that is eaten at Halloween, and as children, we were enticed to eat it because of the money and the ring that were hidden inside it! Whoever finds the ring will be the first to marry.

You will find recipes that use yeast but bread soda would have been more traditional. This recipe uses baking powder. It also has the addition of lemon and orange zest which would not have been traditional.

As well as the ring for marriage it would also have had: (all wrapped in greaseproof paper)
a coin for wealth
a small piece of cloth for poverty
a pea for plenty
a thimble for a spinster
a button for a bachelor
a matchstick to beat your husband/wife (imagine!!!)

You can guess why most of these have fallen by the wayside...

Ingredients:

12oz mixed fruit like raisins and sultanas.
6oz fructose or coconut sugar.
300ml hot, strong tea.
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
5oz brown flour, 
4oz white flour, (I use spelt for both)
1 and a quarter tsp baking powder
1 medium egg.

Pour the hot tea over the fruit and sugar and leave over night in the fridge.

The next day stir in the zest.


In a large bowl mix the flours and baking powder, and then add the fruit and the soaking liquid.
Stir in the egg and mix it well.


Turn it into a lined and greased loaf tin, level the surface, and bake it for about an hour and a half at 150c.

I'm lucky I got to photograph this before it was all eaten! Hence the dodgy quality of this pic. It's best eaten thickly sliced with real butter and a big mug of tea. 
Now there's one of my favourite combinations ever. Yum...!



It's also good enough to throw into a round cake tin and present it as cake. I make a thin glaze of icing sugar and enough milk to make a slightly runny icing, and if you have it, a drop of orange essence. 

I'd love to hear what you think if you get a chance to try this! 

19 comments:

Stephanie V said...

I really do want to try this, Ciara!

I love the photo of your little one helping to make it..those wee feet are precious. And the leprechaun apron, too.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Sounds simply scrumptious! I thought dried cranberries would be good in there as well...do you ever put a dram of rum or brandy in it? I will definitely be making this, on these rainy, cool days...cheers.

Sara said...

This sounds heavenly. I'm going to give it a try. Will think of you as we enjoy it. :)

Mimi said...

My Mum used to make almost the same one!
I'll give it a go this week, and let you know how I get on.
Love the cake stand in your last photo- is it Belinda Brayshaw?

Ellen said...

That looks so yummy right now! I am looking forward to trying it and the cake looked good as well....

HKatz said...

Thank you for sharing this - not only the background that goes with the cake, but those delicious pics and the recipe too.

Irmhild said...

i made a plain apple cake myself, but a rich and sweet tea brack... i think the weather is just starting to give us an appetite for all those lovely foods and drinks we don't think about during the summer! hot chocolate with marshmallows, warm apple cake with whipped cream, beef and guinness stew, gumbo, barm brack...
we put down the first fire of autumn, and i'm making peace with the shorter days...

Irmhild said...

i'll let you know if i try the brack! tell me, where do you find untreated oranges and lemons? i can't find any to save my life... i often wash the ordinary ones really well with hot water and washing up liquid and hope for the best...

i love cake with butter! we had some kind of cake almost every day (stirred cakes, like madeira cake, red wine cake, marbled cake... i'm not talking cream cakes!) when i was little, and if it was a day or two old we always had it with butter.

have you ever had dutch kandis cake? it's dark and sticky and dense, i think with ginger and spices (it's been years since i had it) and packed with a kind of crystallised sugar on top. i must ask my sis to bring some when she comes at the weekend, and once i remember the taste properly again, i can go hunting for recipes!

mise said...

Tea brack is streets ahead of that dry whitish barmbrack the shops sell, especially a lovely citrusy one like this. I'll have one on the go later this week for Sunday.

trixie-bacon said...

I think we'll have to start this Hallowe'en tradition in our house.

Love the Big Ears pinny, and the seaside tin.

Catherine said...

Hey what a lovely barm brack Ciara! We were debating in work at tea break the other day about barm bracks of our childhood and what went into them and I think I remembered most of them - and now you list them all! Of course health and safety would preclude most from commercial bracks which is why I love the homemade version. One of my earliest memories of home made brack made by me was the recipe on the box of Bero Yeast! I still have it stuck into my old red All in the Cooking part one from home ec in school!
Thanks for reviving good memories, Catherine.

affectioknit said...

What a fun tradition and it seems like a lovely fall cake!

Emma said...

I made two this weekend and it is yummy! The orange gives it a lovely subtle overtone. I couldn't find an organic lemon, so I included the orange juice as well. Mine are moist but not as dark as yours. Did you use brown sugar?

trixie-bacon said...

I made the Barm Brack – delicious! Thanks very much for sharing the recipe.

IVAN TERESTCHENKO said...

oh that looks so yummy... I have to try this at home. Lovely meeting you through your blog. Cheers, Ivan

Ciara said...

Thanks all! Trixie-bacon delighted you tried and liked it!

Irmhild, I usually get unwaxed lemons in tesco, but have to make do with scrubbed oranges! And yes, if I am thinking of the same dutch cake I love it! Mrs. Crimbles do a VERY good version of it which you can get in health food shops. Divine...

Emma, (knew, of course that you had made some!) I do use brown sugar if I have it. It's the moistness that makes this so delicious isn't it?

Mise, you won't be disappointed!

jodi said...

I tried this for Halloween and it was excellent! I can see what you mean about having to have photographed it really quickly... my husband pulled the same vanishing brack trick. Thanks very much for the recipe!

Irmhild said...

do you think i could use self raising brown and white flour for this, instead the flours plus baking powder?

Irmhild said...

mmh... have my raisins soaking, and 9 oz of brown and white self raising flour weighed out, and an orange and lemon zested, so it should be very quick and easy in the morning. Unless I bake it this evening, that way it'll be cooled down in the morning, to have for breakfast!