Anne McDonagh, Mullingar Guild, Westmeath
This simple tea brack is a favourite. The recipe requires you to pre-soak the fruit overnight, but other than that its preparation is very straightforward and produces great results, with a good rise and delicious flavours. Tea brack should be served sliced, slathered in good butter and washed down with a hot cup of tea.
900g (2lb) loaf
350g (12oz) mixed dried fruit
275ml (½ pint) cold tea
125g (4½ oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
A pinch of mixed spice (and/or ground cinnamon)
900g (2lb) loaf tin
Palette knife or spatula
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dried fruit and cold tea. Cover and leave overnight to soak.
The next day, preheat oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas 3. Generously grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with oil.
Stir the sugar into the soaked fruit. Whisk the egg until light and frothy and add to the fruit mixture. Sieve the flour and spices into a separate bowl before folding them into the large mixing bowl a spoonful at a time. Mix well and pour into the greased loaf tin, smoothing over the top with a palette knife or spatula.
Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour or until risen and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool fully.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container, where it will develop more depth of flavour. This will keep for up to a week and is delicious toasted, if serving later in the week.
For a variation on this recipe, you could replace 100g (3½oz) of the dried fruit with an equal weight of roughly chopped walnuts and/or goji berries, adding them in the next day with the beaten egg.