Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Mysterious Barmbrack from Valentine's Day 2014

I love quick breads - banana, hummingbird, soda -whatever really, but none so much as the Barmbrack.

I first had Barmbrack (a sturdy quick bread meant to be eaten or used as a weapon for it's density) in Ireland years and years ago. A friend made it for me and she served it with a good knob of butter and a cup of strong Earl Grey tea. In the picture above I've generously topped it with Mascarpone - a nod to the Italian liqueur that's in it.

It's traditionally served for the celebration of Samhain (Halloween - to you and me) and some cooks add wrapped treasures - coins, rings, keys etc. The name is Gaelic - Bairin Breac - speckled bread. I made it for the St. Valentine celebration.

I can't think of anything more comforting actually. Except perhaps, on a cold winter's day like today, a sunny beach in Hawaii.

With that said, this bread is not as sweet as banana bread but it's hardier than most quick breads save for the soda bread. It's excellent for breakfast. And the recipe could not be easier...

Barmbrack (Sometimes also called Brack, Barnbrac, Samhain Cake) Adapted from Edible Ireland.

Ingredients - Makes 1 Loaf
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup white raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup chipped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup Frangelico
  • 1 cup hot, very strong Earl Grey Tea
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  1. Pre heat oven to 350.
  2. Brew the tea.
  3. Mix all fruits together in large bowl which at the end will accommodate the other ingredients too.
  4. Add hot tea and Frangelico to the fruit. Let fruit sit for at least 30 minutes, although overnight is best.
  5. Spray only the bottom of the loaf pan with baking spray.
  6. After the fruit has soaked, add all the rest of the ingredients. Stir until the dry ingredients are just combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and bake for roughly an hour and a half or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack before turning it out to slice.
  9. NOTE: This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to make after the fruit finishes the soak.

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