Although traditionally associated with Halloween, Tea Brack is a year round favourite here at Ariel House and is usually found on the breakfast buffet each morning.
Also known as Barmbrack or “The BarnyBrack” as we used to call it as children (I have no idea why, and would love to know if anyone else called it this too), this loaf is central to Irish Halloween tradition.
The base of the recipe consists of tea soaked dried fruit, such as raisins, sultanas and cherries. As a young child, I always knew when Halloween was drawing close, as my Mam would start collecting left over tea from the pot each evening and storing it in in one of the old glass milk bottles.
The real Halloween brack contained little surprise items, like a ring, a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth or a coin. Whatever you came across in your slice of brack would determine your fortune for the coming year! If you find the ring you’ll soon be married; the cloth shows you will have bad luck and the coin is a sign you’ll be blessed with good fortune. At home, the items were always wrapped in greaseproof paper before going into the mixture, so we spent our time trying to find the paper wrappings through buttered slices of brack to see what we would unearth!
At Ariel House, our Tea Brack recipe is the one my Mam used to make, it’s such a lovely, versatile bake. It can be a cake or bread, for breakfast or for afternoon tea, it really suits any occasion or time of the day.
Our Halloween Tea Brack:
– 300ml cold tea
– 4 tsp Jameson Irish Whiskey
– 110g sultanas
– 220g currants or raisins
– 55g chopped glacé cherries
– 55g chopped mixed peel
– 200g brown sugar
– 225g self-raising flour
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Place the cold tea and whiskey in a bowl. Add in the sultanas, currants, glacé cherries and mixed peel. Cover and set aside to soak overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, self-raising flour, beaten egg, nutmeg andsoaked fruit, with its soaking liquid, until well-mixed.
4. Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin, lined with baking paper.
5. Bake for 1½ hours, until risen and set.
6. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in its tin, then turn out and cool on a wire tray and serve in thick slices with lots of butter
Happy baking and most importantly, Happy Halloween!