Irish tea cake

Adam Liaw
Irish tea cake.
Irish tea cake. Photo: William Meppem

This simple treat is eaten the whole year round in Ireland. At Halloween it's called barmbrack and often contains small trinkets, coins or rings baked into the cake as part of a game of fortune telling.

Ingredients

• 1 Irish breakfast tea bag, or other black tea

• ½ cup sultanas

• ½ cup dried prunes, roughly chopped

• ½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

• ½ cup dried cranberries

• 225g plain flour

• 2 tsps baking powder

• 150g soft brown sugar

• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

• 1 egg

• ¼ cup caster sugar 

Method

Brew the tea in 1½ cups of hot water and allow to cool. Combine the dried fruits in a non-reactive bowl and pour over the cooled tea. Refrigerate overnight. Heat your oven to 170°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices in a mixing bowl, crack in the egg and add the fruits without their liquid. Stir to combine, and add as much of the soaking liquid as necessary to create a pourable batter, reserving the remainder. 

Transfer to a lined loaf tin and bake for 75 minutes. Test with a skewer and, if the skewer comes out wet, return to oven for a further 15 minutes. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then place on a rack to cool to room temperature. 

While the cake is cooking, combine the caster sugar with ¼ cup of the soaking liquid. If no soaking liquid remains, use ¼ cup of water. Bring to a simmer in a small saucepan for just long enough to dissolve the sugar, then allow to cool. Brush the cooling cake with the sugar syrup. When cooled to room temperature, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Slice, spread with butter, and serve with a cup of tea. 

Looking for more St Patrick's Day ideas? Try Adam Liaw's Dublin coddle.