We first had barmbrack while vacationing in the gorgeous county Kerry (Ireland) this summer.
Every morning with breakfast, our B&B hostess would serve these delicious slices of fruit cake, amazing to have with tea. She told us that its a traditional Irish fruit-cake called Barmbrack, made by soaking the mixed dry fruits in tea water and baking them with a dash of whiskey. It’s something of a combination of cake and bread.
Barmbrack is usually baked for Halloween in Ireland and interestingly, people hide all sorts of little trinkets in the batter like a ring, a coin or some sort of little medallion and whoever gets it in the slice, is supposed to have a great year ahead!
This fruit cake is yummy, moist and extremely flavorsome. The best way to have it is to smear it with Irish butter and have it with a hot cup of tea! It stays good for a week in an airtight container.
2 cups plain flour
1 cup demarara sugar
1 tsp baking powder
200 grams mixed dried fruits of your choice like raisins, sultanas etc
1 tablespoon of whiskey
2 tea bags
For mixed spice-
1 cinnamon stick
1 big cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger powder
-Soak the dried fruits in cold tea overnight i.e take the fruits in the bowl,pour water to cover them well, immerse your tea bags in that water and cover with a lid. Soak overnight.
-In a blender, put all the ingredients for the mixed spice except ginger powder and grind to a fine, dry powder. Do not use water. If your blender doesn’t have a smaller setting to grind spices, you can also prepare this powder by hand. Put all the ingredients inside a folded sheet of newspaper and roll the rolling pin (or any other heavy, cylindrical item from your kitchen) over the newspaper till you get a fine powder.
-To this powder, add your ginger powder and mix well. The lovely fragrant mixed spice is ready.
-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
-In a bowl, take the flour, sugar and baking powder and mix till everything looks uniform and well mixed.
-Beat your egg well in a separate bowl.
-In the first bowl, make a small round well in the middle of the dry ingredients and put your beaten egg in it. With your wooden spoon, mix the egg and the dry ingredients together till they both are well mixed with each other. Keep aside.
-Separate the soaked dried fruit from the tea water but preserve the water. Do not throw it away.
-Throw in the dried fruit and gently mix with the flour and egg mixture.
-Taking the tea water, make a wet batter of medium consistency, which is neither too thin nor too thick! Note that it should have any lumps.
-Add a dash of that whiskey but not too much or it will overpower the flavor of tea that we so desperately want in a brack.
-Finally, add 1 tsp of the homemade mixed spice. You can adjust the quantity according to your personal preference as it’s quite strong!
-Take your loaf baking tin and rub the surface with a thin layer of butter all over. Also sprinkle some flour all over.
-Pour your batter into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C for 90 minutes. Do not open the door of the oven to check the cake before 60 minutes. This batter has lots of moisture in it and takes time to cook through. After 60 minutes, keep checking after every ten minutes by inserting a toothpick in the middle. When it comes out clean, your brack is ready.
-After the brack has completely cooled down, cover it with cling film and atleast keep it like that for 12 hours so that it soaks up the flavors of tea and whiskey and dried fruits well.
-Next day, slice up your brack, smear a couple generously with butter and gulp them down with a steaming cup of tea. Mmmmmm…