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Traditional Irish Barmbrack
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Read Time: 2min 30sec
Go for your food shopping anywhere in Ireland during the Halloween season and you’ll notice one thing in particular- the invasion of the Barmbrack, or Irish Tea Cake. It’s everywhere, and in all shapes and sizes. You can unthinkingly just pick up the generally round, raisin-speckled fruit cake (cheap costume jewellery ring included) for just a couple of euro and you’ve scratched the autumn/winter Tea Cake itch. But the compromise is made with taste and quality. The cheap, store-bought Tea Cake commonly eaten now in Ireland is a dry bready product that’s slightly sweet and just blah. If you were to read the ingredients, you’d probably see some questionable things on there that would make you wonder how they ended up in such a simple cake in the first place. This mass-produced, unimpressive cake has come to replace the real, traditional Irish Tea Cake that is a truly delicious product and is special in Ireland’s culinary history.
Where does it come from?
What are the origins of the Irish Tea Cake? Well, Barmbrack, as it is also known, was made in the Ireland of old during the Halloween and winter season. Due to the dried fruit and the wheat flour used- both expensive ingredients- it would have been a much-anticipated treat amongst the hard-working Irish. Some think that the Gaelic báirín breac meant speckled loaf, but others suspect that it refers to the act of scooping yeasty foam from the top of fermented drinks for baking.
My Healthy and Delicious Recipe
The Irish Tea Cake is humble and hearty, and my recipe distinguishes itself as also being healthy. Raw honey would have been used as a natural sweetener in many Irish recipes as sugar wasn’t natively grown. If you can’t access raw honey, a good quality shop-bought honey can be used too. My organic, heritage Einkorn flour would be very similar to the wheat grain Irish people historically used (there were certainly no harmful chemical pesticides or fertilisers used back then). My Tea Cake is tender, just the right hint of sweetness, and beams with a beautiful warm golden hue. Thanks to these simple yet spectacular ingredients, my Tea Cake is incredible in flavour, texture and in appearance. If you use my recipe, I can guarantee you a supremely delicious taste of Ireland’s past. Let’s get to the recipe!
2. To make the cake mixture, make sure all ingredients have come to room temperature.
3. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, being sure to sieve the baking soda.
4. Whisk egg and honey together, and add to the dry ingredients to moisten.
5. Add your plump fruit and tea mixture. We’re looking for a sloppy batter.
6. Bake in a greased and lined loaf tin in a preheated oven at 150 c or 302 f, checking at the 90 minute mark with a toothpick.
7. If toothpick is slightly wet, return to oven and check in at 10 minute or so intervals until a toothpick comes out just about dry.
8. Allow to cool as much as possible on a wire rack before slicing and enjoy!