Mammy’s Irish Tea Brack

“Currney” cake, fruit cake or tea brack were very much a part of the culinary delights of the ’70s and ’80s in Ireland. I still remember the smell of fruit soaking in tea sometimes with a splash of whiskey or brandy. I wouldn’t have been a stranger to stealing a spoon of it either. So when I came across my mum’s recipe amongst the recipes I am currently transcribing. I just had to give it a try. Fruit cake is not something that is very popular in the Mediterranean and as such, I haven’t had a good fruit cake in many years. Her recipe says “mixed fruit” however as I have loads of dried fruit in the house I made up my own mix (200g sultanas, 50g raisins, 50g cranberries, 40 apricots chopped). I also used apricot jam as an alternative to marmalade, something mum would do depending on what she had. I made mine in a 900g loaf tin so it needed a slight bit longer cooking. I just covered the top with tin foil for the last 20 minutes. Mum made it with round tins, loaf tins and square tins. The most important part is of course the thick layer of real butter on the slice when eating! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups of boiling tea
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 340g mixed fruit
  • 1tblsp orange marmalade or apricot jam
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 225g golden castor sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp brandy or Irish whiskey (optional)
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method:

  • Put the fruit mix in a large bowl and cover it with boiling tea. Leave overnight to soak. Do not strain out any of the liquid the next day. You need it when mixing.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C/360F/Gas 4. Grease & line a 7″ square tin with parcment or a 900g loaf tin if using that. (might need to allow a little extra oven time in the loaf tin)
  • Add into the fruit, the beaten egg, mixed spice, marmalade, whiskey and sugar. Give it a good mix. Once mixed gradually add your flour and baking powder, mixing between additions. If you think your mixture is a little dry you can add a dash more tea. It should look like the picture above.
  • Pour the mixture into your tin and level off so it’s even. If you let it sit for a minute it will spread into the tin itself.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 1½ hours until it is a rich brown on top and passes the clean knife test. If you use a 900g tin you might find this takes a few minutes extra. Just cover the top with tin foil and it will avoid it burning. Let the cake cool in its tin.
  • Serve with real butter and a mug of tea. Perfection!

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