By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Here’s a wee something to sweeten your morning, or take with your tea, whenever you choose to have it. It’s a bairín breac in the original Irish Gaelic, which translates to “speckled loaf.” This quick-bread is made with whole grain flour and plenty of sweet dried fruits-enough to keep Irish eyes smiling. The batter is moistened by Irish breakfast tea, which gives rise to the cake’s name, Tea Brack. It’s also affectionately known as Irish freckle bread on account of it being thoroughly dappled with raisins and currants.
Since there’s tea in it, it’s best when there’s some beside it as well. And since there’s no butter in it, you can feel free to slather your slice with a nice Irish-style creamy butter. It’s a true Irish treat, this quick-bread brack. Infused with a good cuppa, it’s a perfect Irish brack-fast.
Tea Brack, aka Irish Freckle Bread
1 cup hot brewed tea, preferably Irish breakfast tea
1 cup raisins, packed
½ cup currants, packed
1 cup pitted prunes, snipped into small pieces
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups Irish-Style wholemeal flour or white-whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 ½ tablespoons coarse sparkling sugar, optional
Pour the hot tea over the dried fruits in a medium-sized bowl. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease an 8×2 or 9-inch round cake pan. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dried fruit and any remaining liquid. Stir till thoroughly combined; the batter will be thick and stiff. Add the egg, mixing until thoroughly combined.
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out moist, but without any crumbs. Turn the tea brack out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve slices of the bread spread with good quality butter.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour.