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.

This would make a great addition to any serious cooks collection, especially where improving their skills in the kitchen is high on their agenda. Each chapter of this book helps teach the reader a new skill from stock/soup making to braising to coking vegetables to pastry (and just a few cakes) so its ideal for less experienced or novice cooks too. I think this is a great reference book; and its the nearest I will get to being taught how to master anything by Rory O'Connell, and when you read Charlottes blog you will understand why.  '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!


  1. look perfect and delicious, my type of cake:)

  2. I love books like this, really massive tomes of facts about how to do stuff... also the recipes have usually been tried and tested a number of times so there are very little fails... the cake also looks superb and nicely dense... this is the kind of tea loaf that my grandma would have served at teatime with each slice slathered in butter... thanks so much for the brilliant entry to random recipes. I have updated the round-up to include your post x

  3. Tea brack looks fantastic! Just off to weigh some fruit. Only hope it turns out half as good as the photo.

  4. Lovely. A slice of tea brack on a winter afternoon is one of life's great pleasures. I admit to liking a little butter on my slice.

  5. Oh lovely post Sue. I didn't know Rory was Darina's brother, so shows how much attention I've been paying to Charlotte's blog - heading there straight after this. Would love to go to Ballymaloe. Your tea-brack looks so good (don't know why I persist on looking at these things on fast days)!

  6. OMG es mi tipo de pastel se ve muy rico es irresistible,abrazos.

  7. Susan, I would love a big slice of that tea brack right this minute! Did you enter the marmalade awards this year? I did it in 2013 but didn't get around to it this time. Maybe I will in 2015.

  8. It looks like a great tea loaf for an afternoon snack. I don't like tea but I love bakes that have tea in them.

  9. Yum, I love these kinds of old-fashioned baking, they are so good with a cup of tea after a hard morning/afternoon/five mins in the garden (or indeed any time!) Thanks for the recipe and for the reminder about random recipes, I must get on to that this month...


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x