Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, I have been thinking of doing a special day that day like I did for Valentines day.
I am going to do some baking such as muffins and cookies, but I would like to do some traditional Irish foods as well. One of the things I am going to try is Irish Tea Brack.
Barm Brack or Tea Brack is a a sort of cross between cake and bread. The word Brack comes from an old Irish word, ‘breac‘, meaning speckled. Barm (often is pronounced Barn) is thought by some to be from an old English word ‘beorma‘ meaning yeasty. Others say it is a mispronunciation of ‘aran’, which means bread. Aran Breac would have meant Speckled bread, so that version makes sense to me.
Traditionally small items are mixed into the brack before it is baked, each with a message or prediction for the person who gets it in a slice. The items always include a ring, which predicts a wedding within the year, but any or all of the following are sometimes included.
■a coin for wealth
■a small piece of cloth for poverty
■a pea for plenty
■a thimble for a spinster
■a button for a bachelor
■a matchstick to beat your husband/wife (perhaps leave that one out, I ‘m not sure it sends a good message!)
If you are using any of these items, wrap them well in greaseproof or waxed paper before adding them to the mix.
1½ cups Cold strong tea
2 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
3 cups mixed dried fruits
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 teaspoon Grated lemon rind (optional)
Put the tea, sugar, molasses, lemon rind and dried fruit in a bowl. Stir well, then cover and leave to soak overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease the tin with a little butter. Beat the egg and mix it thoroughly with the fruit. Sieve the flour, spices and bread soda together and stir well into the fruit mixture.
You can mix in any of the charms you are using at this point, or wait until the batter is in the tin and push them in then.
Turn the batter into the 7″ round tin, place in the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Allow the brack to cool for about 20 minutes in the tin before turning it out to cool on a wire rack. Don’t eat until completely cool.