When we make this at Yule (December 21st ), everybody in the house gets to give it a stir and make a wish., Then we put a small silver coin in the mixture for luck. Whoever gets the coin when we have the Brack with Christmas tea is rewarded with good luck for the following year. This tradition was started by my great grandmother who used to add a silver sixpence to her Plum Puddiings when she made them at Yule every year.
This Irish Tea bread is just right for eating with a good cup of tea. Tea Brack can be served as slices on their own or with some quality butter . Mary would always leave the fruit to soak overnight..It gives the fruit time to absorb the whiskey flavour properly.
500g natural brown sugar (Demerrara)
500g plain flour (sifted)
3 eggs (well beaten)
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp mixed spice
3 tblsp honey (runny) to coat the baked Tea Brack’s
If using Whiskey – reduce the amount of tea
150ml Whiskey (Irish Whiskey – Jameson or Bushmills)
300ml Strong Black Tea
At least two hours beforehand, or overnight, place the dried fruit in a large, non metallic mixing bowl, pour over the tea (left to cool) and then pour over the whiskey. Stir and then cover with a clean cloth for the dried fruit to plump up.
The next day (preferable) – or 2 hours later In a large mixing bowl sift in the plain flour, baking powder, sugar and ground mixed spice – mix thoroughly. Tip in the soaked dried fruit and any liquid left in the bowl – mix with a wooden spoon. Then add in the beaten eggs and stir to mix everything together, then leave for a few minutes. The cake batter should just be slightly wetter than a ‘dropping’ consistency i.e. the batter will easily drop off the spoon when tilted upright – adjust with extra water (if too dry) or extra flour (if too wet).
Preheat the oven to 160C and grease 2 large loaf tins with butter.
Pour equal amounts of the Tea Brack mixture into the two large loaf tins. Make sure the batter only comes up two-thirds of the way to allow for expansion during baking. Use a spoon and stir the batter mixture in the loaf tins to get rid of any air pockets and to bring any dried fruit which sunk during pouring off the bottom, so that it is mixed evenly throughout the cake batter.
Bake these loaf tins in the oven for 70 to 90 minutes at 160C. Test after 70 minutes to see if the braks are done by pushing a metal skewer into the centre to see if they come out clean and hot. If the braks need longer cover the tops with some foil to stop the braks from browning too fast.
Once baked remove from the oven, after 20 minutes of cooling turn them out of the tins to cool further on a cake rack. While the bracks are still warm brush over some runny honey and allow to further cool before slicing into and serving. You can drizzle over some extra whisky (2 tbsp per cake) to soak in before coating in honey if you plan on ageing the Tea Brack’s, or want extra flavour from the whiskey – although this is entirely optional: once the cake batter is baked the whiskey flavour is muted and very well balanced with the fruit.
These Tea Brack’s can easily last several days, and improve in flavour, if kept stored in an air tight container.
This looks and sounds tremendous, Ruthie. Thanks for sharing this recipe ... keep them coming! :-)
Glad you are enjoying the recipes...:) xx