Saturday, 8 March 2008

Irish Cooking: Tea Brack

Although many Americans have heard of "Irish Soda Bread", most are completely unaware of the variety of delicious sweet or tea breads that are a part of the Irish culture. Many of these carry the word "brack" in their names, and although I've given up trying to understand the Gaelic language and all of their variations, "brack" is most likely based on the Gaelic words "breac" or "breic" which means "spotted" or "speckled". Generally, Irish breads with "brack" in the name of them routinely contain raisins, nuts or other preserved or dried fruits, so it all makes sense to me!

This particular recipe for Tea Brack is a favorite of mine since it actually has tea in it along with just a wee bit of whiskey :) that is used for soaking the dried fruits before baking. I've seen some folks using Guinness or other similar beers in their Tea Bracks, but the strong flavor tends to hide the taste of the tea.

Since there is no butter in this recipe, it should keep very well, probably up to a month in a sealed container, although I promise you -- one taste of this and you'll be lucky if it lasts in your house for one day!

Irish Tea Brack

1 lb dark raisins, halved
1 lb golden raisins or sultanas
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 cup hot strong tea
2/3 cup Irish whiskey
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3-1/2 cups plain flour
3 rounded tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 tbs whiskey (to pour over brack after baking)

The day before: Place fruit, sugar, lemon rind and juice, tea and 2/3 cup Irish whiskey in a large bowl. Cover and allow to stand overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brush a deep 9" round cake pan with melted butter. Line the base and sides with parchment paper. Grease the paper with more melted butter.

Combine the beaten eggs with the fruit/whiskey mixture and mix well. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and spices. Spoon onto the fruit/egg mixture and stir together until dry ingredients are well moistened. Be careful not to overbeat.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake the brack in the preheated oven for one hour or until cooked. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before turning the brack out. While still warm, use a sharp knife to make several small slits in the top of the brack. Pour the extra whiskey over the top.

May God be with you and bless you,
May you see your children's children,
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

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Kalyn said...

Had to come and see what Tea Brack was, and it does sound delish.

Deborah Dowd said...

I am loving this series on Irish recipes! The tea brack sounds great, but at the price of lamb chops, I can't imagine using them in a stew!

Chef Mom said...

Good point, Deborah! It is a splurge, but well worth the price when you taste it!