Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tea Barmbrack

Yeast risen barmbrack is lovely, but time consuming. If you've still not baked your brack for Samhain, this one is quite nice. I'm well aware that candied pineapple, and dried cranberries are not traditional, but that's what I had. Feel free to substitute currants, dates, etc. The recipe is from Darina Allen, who knows all there is to know(!), so I knew it would work (she's yet to fail me). The original recipe calls for self-rising flour, but you can make your own with baking powder and salt (add  1 1 /4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt per cup plain flour). I pre-mix my own mixed spice, but you can go the typical cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg-clove route if you don't have any. I like a bit of allspice and coriander in mine, but that's admittedly odd.

This is a keeping cake, that is, you will enjoy it more after it stores and acquires a softer, sticky texture. You can eat it the day it is baked, but it is worth waiting at least overnight, and you'll find it improves with age (similar to parkin, or a malt loaf). I forget to mention that with so many of these recipes, and I wonder how many cakes/breads/etc have met an untimely end as they seemed too heavy and stale at first sampling. This is particularly true of parkin, so if you're making some for next week, you'd best get baking.

If you add charms, I suggest poking them into the loaf after baking, and wrapping them in parchment so no one chokes on a coin.

You Will Need:

3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup sultanas
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup candied pineapple (or cherries)
Grated zest of an orange-or lemon
1 cup strong, hot black tea
1/4 cup spirits (I used some really strong cherry brandy)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice, or an aproximation of mixed spice

In a large bowl, combine everything except the eggs and dry ingredients. Let soak a few hours, or overnight. Add the egg, sugar, and flour. Don't overmix-just stir until everything is wet and combined.

I lined a loaf pan with parchment which made my life much easier. If you don't have parchment, grease and flour the pan generously.

Pour the batter into a large loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour and a half-but start testing at an hour. The cake may seem dry as it cools, but it will soften up over a couple days. To store, wrap tightly in wax paper and cling film.


Raymond said...

Mmm. Tea, brandy, candied fruit and brown sugar? I'm there.

Goody said...

The charms are intended as fortune telling-a coin for wealth, a bean for poverty, a ring for marriage within the year, a button for bachelorhood...that sort of stuff.

So Danny gets the ring, and furiously yells,
"I can't be married, AND rich-and I want to be rich! Goddamnit, I need bachelorhood if I'm going to be rich!"

Thankfully, he got the button next day. Whew.