Friday, October 10, 2014

Barm Brack - Cold Tea Cake

This is one of my mother's recipes that came in her wide ranging fruit cake repertoire. It's one of those nourishing, old-fashioned kind of fruit cakes, well, a cross between a bread and a cake really - just what was needed for a weekend away camping.  You might find it a bit strange because the dried fruit is soaked in cold tea, but you will just have to go with me on this one.  It ends up being very moist and delicious and keeps for a good few days - if you are lucky.

Originating in Ireland, versions of it crop up all over the northern part of the UK probably in the necessity for filling the up the family as cheaply as possible.  The brack comes from an old Irish word meaning speckled - and you can see why!

I love it because it's so simple, quick to make and tastes really good; and there's a bonus NO SUGAR - apart from the natural sweetness of the dried fruit - and it's the kind of cake that cries out for a smothering of butter and a cup of tea.

Recipe
1 cup currants
1 cup sultanas
2 - 3 cups cold tea (fruit should be well covered so that it can get to juicy plumpness)
30 g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Zest of one lemon

Method
1.  Put dried fruit into a mixing bowl, cover with cold tea and leave overnight
2.  The next day, grease a large loaf tin and put oven on 180oC
3.  Lightly beat eggs
4.  Mix everything together with soaked dried fruit in mixing bowl.
5.  Turn into loaf tin and bake for 60 to 80 minutes until golden and skewer comes out clean.  Remove from oven
6.  Leave in pan for about 20 minutes before turning out and let cool completely before cutting.
NOTE ABOUT COOKING THIS CAKE:  You don't pour off the tea after you have soaked the fruit in it.  However, the fruit should have soaked most of it up.  If you have a lot of excess, strain some of it off into a jug and see if you need it once you have mixed all the other ingredients in.  The mix should be soft - not sloppy or stiff.  Hope this helps. Now, all that remains is to put the kettle on!  Or the billy in this case.  Our camping spot in Mebbin National Park with the most incredible, ancient fig trees - so big you could live in them and hundreds of years old.

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