Thursday, 28 October 2010

Good old fashioned tea & Halloween bracks

This weekend is a long weekend in France, so haven taken tomorrow off work, I am heading down to Limoges to spend the "Toussaint" with the in-laws. The food is always good in Limoges, my mother in law is a good cook, and this weekend I am to be instructed in art of making foie gras. The other special treat they have in store for me is to visit some family friends who have a farm, where I will be treated to the lady of the house's speciality - potatoes cooked in pork grease!! This should not be too much of a shock to my irish tastebuds, however I may get a shock if I don't fit into my work clothes on Tuesday!

I thought it would be nice to make something traditionally Irish to bring with me, and being Halloween what better and more traditional than a brack!

My mam's tea brack is delicious - she kindly emailed me her recipe and for the traditional barmbrack I took the recipe from Darina Allen's book: "Traditional Irish Cooking", to which I added the traditional items: ring, coin, pea, stick and rag which I thought would amuse the French! I remember all of us girls at home tucking into huge slices of Staffords of Wexford Barmbrack when we we kids to try and get the ring!

The teabrack is the much easier of the two to make and slightly richer and the recipe is given below.

This is my mam's teabrack recipe:
400g dried fruit,425 ml strong tea,50g cherries, 50g candied peel,110g soft brown sugar,110g granualated sugar, 1 egg, 400g plain flour,1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and mixed spice. This makes 2 loaves.Heat the oven to 180c. Soak the dried fruit (not cherries or candied peel)in tea overnight. Next day add all the other ingredients,add a little more tea if necessary. Divide between 2 well buttered tins and bake for 40-50 min.

My Barmbrack recipe is based on Darina Allen's Hallowe'en Barmbrack recipe in her book "Irish Traditional Cooking" but uses fresh yeast and has no cherries. I also skipped the glazing process. Make sure that the milk is not too hot, I killed the yeast the first time around!

You need 450 strong white flour, 1/2 tablespoon each of cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg, pinch of salt, 30g butter, 11g dried yeast, 85g caster sugar, 300ml tepid milk, 1 beaten egg, 330g dried fruit, 55g candied peel, 50g cherries. An additional egg with a drop of milk to glaze. Sieve flour, spices and salt into a bowl and then rub in the butter. Mix the yeast with one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of tepid milk (you may need to add a little more milk) and leave for 5 minutes until creamy on top (you should see the air bubbles from the yeast). Add the rest of sugar to the flour and mix well. Pour the rest of the tepid milk and the beaten egg into the yeast mixture and stir.¨Put the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the yeast and milk mixture. Mix for about 5 mins on high speed. Fold in the dried fruit, candied peel & cherries. Cover and put in a warm place until it rises (should double in size), the knock back and knead well. Divide into two portions and put each one in a buttered baking tin. Then glaze each loaf with the egg and milk mixture before putting in a pre-heated oven (170°) for about an hour.


  1. Hi Glenda,
    The tea brack is amazing,just had a slice with real butter, yum. tell your mum she is a genius:)

  2. Hey Rita, Thanks will pass the message on to mam! Sale on in Avoca handweavers - have put in an order for some material for cushion should get Thersa to see what they have in the way of wool!