Sunday, 26 June 2011

Borrowdale Brack

My late Mum, bless her, was NOT a domestic goddess.  Mind you, with 7 children, a full-time job, and extra work taken in to do in the evenings, you can hardly blame her!  One thing she DID make, though (other than a fantastic 6-tier cream and strawberry sponge for birthdays) was Barm Brack, a moist, fruit-filled teabread from an old Irish recipe, and it was totally delicious.  I have discovered lots of variations on this over the years, all based around large quantities of dried fruit steeped in tea then made into a cake.  These sorts of breads crop up in a lot of Northern British and Irish recipe books, and this particular one comes from the Lake District, where they know a thing or two about baking.  This fits in with our current low-fat regimen, in that there is no fat (other than an egg yolk), and no dairy too, so great if you have to avoid those things. Not low calorie, mind, with all that dried fruit, but a great energy-boost and a healthy treat.  Just don't slather it with butter, which we did with Mum's Brack :o(

Being an old Lakeland recipe, there is none of this metric nonsense:
12oz mixed dried fruit of your choice - I used sultanas, currants, raisins and chopped mixed peel
12floz hot strong tea - whatever rocks your boat, but I used proper builders' tea
10oz self-raising flour
4oz soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 large egg, beaten
The night before (or early in the morning) soak the fruits in the hot tea.  They will soak most of it up and go lovely and plump.  Next day or that afterfnoon, simply stir everything else in, tip into a 2lb lightly-greased loaf tin (the two long ends lined with baking parchment) and bake at 150C fan or equivalent for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  This keeps very well, wrapped in greaseproof and foil, and it will keep getting moister as the week progresses.  If not on a low-fat regime, give yourself a treat and serve in thick slices spread with good butter with a cup of tea. 

You can vary this basic recipe - add chopped candied ginger and dried ginger instead of the mixed spice with maybe a ginger tisane to soak the fruit.  All cinnamon and some grated apple to replace the mixed peel.  Use Earl Grey and dried figs with some crushed cardamom seeds.  Or a fruit tea and dried cranberries.  Darjeeling and glace cherries to replace some of the fruit.  Experiment!

1 comment:

  1. I know this as tea loaf and it's absolutely wonderful! I use loads of tea bags and squeeze them to get all the flavour out! The stronger the better.
    It's an old family favourite here too, since childhood.
    J x