Sweet Treats – Barmbrack
It’s a terrific way to turn everyday ingredients into something quite special. The addition of strong black tea adds an imperceptible something to the cake and is worth your consideration even if fruit cake is not normally your thing. When my friends tried it, they were reminded of a german style malt bread; others will be reminded of the infamous Cheat’s Fruitcake that gets trotted out here at christmas.
Either way, take your time to soak the fruit. Do it overnight if possible. Everything else is a simple matter of dumping in flour and eggs. As for cooking times, it does vary as comments from a couple of years ago attest – I cooked it in a 20cm round tin and it took up the entire time, but the smaller the tin, the shorter the cooking time. A loaf tin for example will take about 80 to 90 minutes.
While I love it best sliced and toasted as a raisin toast in the morning, it’s also fantastic in lunch boxes and an excellent addition this weekend to your Father’s Day festivities.
This makes a 20cm round cake, or you can cook it in a very large loaf tin (about 14 x 20cm)
2 cups mixed dried fruit (or make up your own combination using your choice of sultanas, raisins, craisins, currants, dates, apricots or anything else you have to hand); 250ml (1 cup) cold black tea made with boiling water and 2 teabags (I used Nerada tea); 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1 egg; 2 ½ cups self-raising flour
Chop all the fruit to the same size as the sultanas in the mixture and place in a large bowl. Add cold black tea, stir well and cover, then leave it to soak for several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a loaf tin or round cake tin and line the bottom of the pan with baking paper cut to fit.
Stir the egg into the fruit mixture, then sugar and sifted flour and mix well with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for 1 and ¾ hours for a round cake; 80-90 minutes for a loaf tin until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake becomes too brown on top during the baking, cover the cake with a piece of greaseproof paper or foil and continue cooking.
Stand the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve it sliced with butter.
$4.20 for a 20cm round cake.
The wonderful people at Nerada Tea have ask me to come up with a recipe or two and have given me some incredible varieties of locally produced, organically grown black and herbal teas to play with. While this recipe uses standard black tea, I’m having great fun devising some recipes for more unusual herbal teas and another sweet treat will be posted early next week.