Barm Brack is an Irish Tea Loaf. It is most often eaten, I understand, at Halloween. However I love to eat a cake rich in fruit at almost any time. It is just something that goes so well with a cup of tea. The main reason for doing this recipe now is simply to show how simple it is to make a delicious cake with relatively few ingredients, most of which are likely to be in people’s cupboards already.
It is also a recipe which can be adapted. So for instance the dried fruit can be interchanged with whatever a person may have available. Indeed some chopped nuts could be included too. The amount of fruit could be lowered too, if the full amount isn’t available. That would still make a very good cake. Similarly the spices(mixed spice in my case) can be varied to a particular taste or what is on hand. So too with the sugar, I used soft light brown sugar, but dark, or granulated or caster sugar would work too, though the flavour would be changed a little.
The other thing to consider in the liquid. I soaked my fruit in cold black tea(1 1/4 cups) but if preferred a little of that can be swapped out for some whiskey. I personally don’t like whiskey(notice the Irish spelling as this is an Irish loaf cake).
My Barm Brack baked very well, and after an hour I decided that it had firmed up enough so I took it out of the oven. But depending on how much liquid is used in the batter the baking time can vary, so a little longer may be required in some instances.
Once cooled for about 15 minutes I removed it from the tin and allowed it to cool completely. Then I tasted it and I must say it was very good indeed. I am aware, however, that many people wrap the cake in foil and then plastic wrap and store it in an airtight tin for a couple of days before having the first taste, so that is something you may wish to consider, if you can wait that long.
- 225g(1 1/2 cup+1 tsp) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 375g(2 3/4 cups) dried mixed fruit(or with some nuts and fruit of your choice)
- 300ml (1 1/4 cups)cold black tea(or 250ml tea and 50ml whiskey)
- 125g(1/2 cup + 2tbsp) soft light brown sugar( granulated or caster would be fine too)
- 1 medium egg(large in USA), beaten
- 1 tsp mixed spice(or a combination of your favourite spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves)
- Place the fruit into a bowl and pour in the tea(and whiskey if using) and cover then allow to soak for at least 6 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
- Grease and line a 900g(2lb) loaf tin.
- Strain the liquid from the soaking fruit.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices into a bowl and mix to combine.
- Add the egg and about half of the retained liquid, then start to mix to form a batter.
- Add more of the liquid, in small amounts until you have a fairly wet batter(you may not need all the liquid).
- Stir in the strained fruit, until fully combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
- Bake in the oven for 60 – 75 minutes, until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch. The wetter the batter the more time it is likely to take to bake.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin. Then place on a wire rack to cool completely.