Irish Tea Brack is a not-too-sweet quick bread that is moist and full of dried fruits that have been soaked in strong black tea. The honey glaze is brushed on when the loaf is hot from the oven.
I’ve called this recipe Tea Brack instead of the more often used name Barmbrack. I’ve read conflicting information on the name of the bread. Some sources say that the “barm” in barmbrack is Irish for yeast, or the foamy layer that forms when you’re making a yeast bread. Other sources say that “barm” means bread.
Because I wanted to make a quick bread rather that a yeast bread, and I definitely wanted to soak the fruit in tea, I settled on using the name Tea Brack. The name of this recipe highlights the unusual (for us Yanks anyway) use of brewed tea as an ingredient.
The great news is, because it is a quick bread it couldn’t be easier to make. You don’t need a mixer or lots of bowls to put together the recipe. Other than soaking the fruit for an hour or so the recipe is very, well, “quick” to make.
This bread is quite lean, the only fat in the recipe is from the egg yolk, and it’s not super sweet. Because it’s not as rich or sweet as a lot of quick breads, a slice of this loaf is great for breakfast. You don’t feel like you’re eating cake for breakfast (not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉).
The leftover slices toast beautifully. I had a toasted slice with a little butter and strawberry jam for breakfast the other day and it was almost better than the freshly baked loaf.
- 2/3 cup (4 oz, 112g) golden raisins
- 2/3 cup (4 oz, 112g) currants
- 2/3 cup (4 oz, 112g) chopped dried dates
- 1 1/4 cups (12 oz, 360ml) freshly brewed black tea
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4.5 oz, 126g) honey
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups (9 oz, 252g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 2 tablespoons Irish whiskey (see note)
- Combine the raisins, currants and dates in a large heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot tea over the fruit. Add finely grated zest and all the juice from the lemon and the orange. Cover the bowl and set aside for 1 hour.
- Butter a 9"x5" loaf pan, or spray with cooking spray, and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Add the brown sugar, 1/4 cup of honey and the egg to the soaked fruit and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and spices.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the pan and smooth it out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
- While the cake bakes, stir together the whisky and the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the whiskey mixture over the top of the loaf. Use all the glaze, it will absorb as the cake cools. Cool the loaf 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
- Cool completely before slicing.
You can use any mix of dried fruits that you like. Dark raisins, craisins or dried apricots would work well.
For an alcohol-free glaze use cold tea in place of the whiskey.
Because the cake has very little fat, the loaf is best the day it is baked. Leftovers can be sliced, wrapped and frozen. I suggest you toast before serving.