I have one teapot, it must be about 20 years old and it occasionally makes an appearance on my kitchen table. I have vague memories of buying it in Ennis Co.Clare when I lived there, it has a matching milk jug and sugar bowl and somehow they have all remained intact despite being moved around a lot! It spent a good part of its life in my mother's attic when I lived in Jersey and made a happy reappearance into my Kildare kitchen when we moved back to Ireland. It now lives with us in Ely and comes out on special occasions like when my Mum comes over to visit or when we have serious tea drinkers over. I don't drink tea.
The other time I use the blue teapot is to make this Irish tea brack. Making Irish tea brack is almost ritualistic for me, you must brew a strong pot of tea, you must wait for it to go stone cold and then pour it over the fruit, then leave the fruit to drink the tea and plump up nice and fat. That is the secret to a good tea brack. You don't need too much sugar, the fruit is sweet enough and we like to eat it warm, soon after it has been baked with a good helping of Irish butter. It does get better with age, but it never lasts long enough to age in our house, my daughter's taste buds are firmly rooted in her Irish genes, she can eat as much of this as she wants.
My grandmother makes 3 or 4 of these at a time, I've not mastered that skill yet, but I'm working on it. She freezes hers and I can vouch that they still taste great when thawed and are excellent sliced and toasted. I spoke to her yesterday and as usual we talk about cooking and baking, I told her I was making tea brack, we debated the addition of glace cherries, she likes them I don't, some say they are crucial to a traditional Irish tea brack, I disagree. I think, as with any food you should go with what you like, that's why I leave them out. I use a mixture of sultanas and mixed fruit, sultanas are juicier and I find they result in a more plump brack. You can enjoy this warm or cold, toasted or not, I tend to make it more in the run-up to St.Patrick's day, but it's not limited to feast days. It does taste better though when shared with friends, a cup of tea and a few good stories.
This is my final recipe to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight, I hope you have enjoyed the recipes I have created to raise a little bit of awareness. I have always been a supporter of Fairtrade and believe it is a good thing to support people, not corporations. I hope you take a break today and enjoy a cup of tea and a slice or two of brack.
- 350 ml cold strong Fairtrade tea
- 200 g sultanas
- 150 g mixed fruit
- 230 g plain flour
- 1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
- 2 level teaspoon baking powder
- 2 level tbs dark brown , soft, Fairtrade sugar
- 1 large egg
- Butter for greasing the tin
- Soak the fruit in the tea overnight or at least for a couple of hours.
- Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees C, I use a fan assisted electric oven, please adjust according to your own oven.
- Grease a 1 lb loaf tin liberally with butter.
- Add the flour, baking powder, spice and sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir together, make a well in the centre then break the egg into the well.
- Add the fruit, keeping the tea, and mix well using a wooden spoon. You should have a wet sticky dough, if it's too dry add some of the reserved tea.
- Spoon the dough into the prepared loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 50 - 60 minutes. The brack is done when it is a rich golden colour, you can test it by piercing it with a metal skewer, it should come out dry.
- Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Wrap in tin foil and keep for 3 - 4 days.
- Nutritional Information - is approximate and is based on one slice of brack.
- Mixed Spice - mixed spice is a blend of spices. It usually consists of a mixture of ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, ground cloves and ground ginger. You should be able to find it in your supermarket in the spice section. If not you can buy it online.
- Mixed Fruit - mixed fruit is a mixture of sultanas (golden raisins) raisins and dried orange and lemon peel. They usually come in a bag pre-mixed. You could use those ingredients separately or just use sultanas.
More Irish Recipes for St.Patrick's Day:
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* Fairtrade UK supplied the tea for this brack, this does not affect my opinions or may ability to eat brack.