Thursday, 30 January 2014
Tea brack - a random recipe
Tea brack is a dense fruit cake that is traditionally served sliced thinly and spread with butter. This recipe doesn't really need any additional butter to be fair, as it was a very moist cake. The recipe for this tea brack came form Rory O'Connell's book called 'Master It - how to cook today'. Its one of the latest additions to my ever growing cook or recipe book collection and the theme of Belleau Kitchens 'random recipe' challenge for this month is to make something from a recent addition. By chance I opened the book towards the end and came across this recipe, was a chance opening as there are not many cake recipes in this book...and this book is over 500 pages long!
I have been quite interested in this particular book recently as my friend Charlotte is studying under Rory O'Connell, Darina Allen and Rachel Allen's tuition over in Ireland for 3 months. You can follow Charlottes adventures on her blog, its a fascinating read of what she is getting up to at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Some of the dishes she has been making look so fabulous and her journey to improve her cookery skills is really interesting. Rory O'Connell founded the school with his sister Darina Allen, he has been cooking and teaching for over 30 years.
This tea brack is a huge heavy brick of a cake laiden with fruits that have been soaked in tea overnight; this recipe is a great way to use up left over dried fruits after you have made your Christmas cakes. I always seem to have half a packet of this and a quarter of a tub of that left over, all those bits and bobs can go into this cake. The soaking of dried fruits in tea plumps up the fruits and makes them so delicious, especially if you use a flavoured tea as I did. I used Betty's Christmas loose leaf tea, which added an extra spicy flavour to my brack.
Rory O'Connell's book is a hefty volume packed full of recipes and advice and guidance on how to cook just about everything well. This book isn't big on the visual (so if you like heavily staged photos of recipes shown throughout a recipe book it won't be for you) but it's clear that the author knows his subject matter very well indeed and therefore nothing fancy is really needed. This book is not about the visual its all about good cooking.
'Master It' is published by Fourth Estate.
200g dried fruit (my selection was from what I had in and was made up of sultanas, dried cranberries, dried sliced apricots, and dried chopped dates to make up 200g)
55g glace cherries
55g dried mixed peel
55g whole almonds chopped
1 large free range egg
400g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
450ml tea (I made my tea strong with loose leaf tea for best flavour)
110g soft brown sugar
110g golden caster sugar
1. The day before get your dried fruits weighed out ready and make your tea. Strain the tea over the dried fruits ( you don't want tea leaves in your brack) and combine with a spoon. Cover and leave over night. The next day the fruits will have plumped up and absorbed most of the tea.
2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Add the glace cherries and the mixed peel to the soaked fruits and mix together.
3. Add the egg and the sugars and mix well. Finally add the flour and baking powder. The mixture will be quite stiff at this stage.
4. Put the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake for an hour and a half at 180C fan. Test with a skewer, if the skewer is not clean you will need to bake for longer depending on your oven.
5. Once the cake is cold serve thinly sliced, with or without butter. Kept in a tin and wrapped in greaseproof paper this cake will keep for several days. It won't last too long, trust me!