Hallowe’en Teabrack

“When times are hard people look for comfort, people look for something that is close to them.” – John McKenna on the topic of Digging Ireland out of Recession at Savour Kilkenny FoodCamp, 22nd October 2010.

And what could be more comforting than the smell of baking filling the house or more warming than a cup of tea in the ‘good’ china cup?  A lot has changed since the downturn hit our economy and while undeniably hard, there has been a shift away from the bullion worship and back to our traditions.  Why have I made a Christmas Cake for the first time in 10 years?  Why did my kids never get to wrap up the coin, the rag, the pea, the stick and the ring and make a wish as they got stirred into the hallowe’en brack until yesterday?

For me the recession has been a cliched wake-up call.  A realisation that although my local supermarket may be more expensive than the competition, it is my local supermarket.  It is a supermarket yes, but it is a supermarket that stocks Irish and local products, employs local people and is 100% Irish owned.

When I get the opportunity to shop in farmer’s markets I do that and yes there is comfort in buying that handmade bread or cheese.  To quote John again “Speciality foods convey intrinsic values..goodness, honesty, community, family.”

Along with a self-made commitment to buy Irish and local as much as possible I have also rediscovered home-baking over the past couple of years.  It is fun, it is comforting and it is traditional.  I’ve no idea where the origins of this teabrack recipe lie as it was one that I’d scribbled on the back of an envelope but it is full of plump, warm, tea bathed fruit, scented with the zest and juice  of an orange and is comfort in a mouthful.  (The fruit needs to soak overnight.)


You Will Need:

300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants)
225ml hot tea
One orange
50g butter
125g light brown sugar
1 egg
225g self-raising flour
A ring, a pea, a rag, a stick &  a coin all wrapped in parchment paper.
Method:
Juice and zest the orange and make up the hot tea.
Place the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the juice, zest and the hot tea and leave to soak overnight covered with a tea towel.
Heat oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4.
Lightly grease a loaf tin and line the base with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg and the flour.
Stir in the fruit mixture (including tea and oj) and pour into the loaf tin.
Note: Tradition in our house was to make a wish as each child got to stir the mixture and the wrapped treasures are added. 
Bake for 1 hour.  Test the mixture with a skewer and it if comes away clean the cake is cooked.
Enjoy.
Til next time, Sheila

14 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Teabrack

  1. eimear says:

    wow sounds so yummy and simple. will try and make it this wkend for my Italians friends and see what they think of our tradition.

    One question, does the fruit actually soak up all the tea or the next morning do you have to drain the fruit before you add it to the mixture?

    tnx

    • sheila kiely says:

      Good question! Have modified method based on your comment to include adding the fruit and the tea and oj. The hardest part of this recipe is remembering to soak the fruit overnight, apart from that easy and delicious. Enjoy

  2. colette says:

    Recipe sounds lovely Sheila .Will try it in the next few days.

    Just one tiny request. I have a gas oven and am hopeless at converting to degrees. Any chance of the gas mark required. I will email again when I have tried it.

    Colette

    • sheila kiely says:

      Hi Colette and thanks for your comment. Yes I’ve managed to get away with just putting up Celcius (my oven) to date but will include Gas Mark also in future. I’ve looked it up on three sources and they all say that 180 is Gas Mark 4 (moderate oven). I hope you do try this, it’s worlds apart from shop bought dried out ones and great fun if you get kids involved. Happy Baking, Sheila.

    • Eimear Coghlan says:

      ya i adjusted the ingredients and made two batches. i used most of the fruit, just left a little as the mix seemed perfect.

  3. Grainne says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I found the instructions super easy to follow. I substituted gluten free flour to make the brack suitable for the coeliac in my life. It seems to make the slices more likely to crumble, but we found that a copious spread of butter helps keep it together:-)

    • sheila kiely says:

      Thanks for trying it Gra. I’ve been reading more and more recipes lately with alternative mixes to use that are gluten free as it is a problem for a growing number of people so I will try some out in the New Year.

  4. Ronan Breathnach says:

    Sounds great. I plan on doing it with a class of 10 -12 year olds in 2 weeks. I’m comfortable doing the cooking bit with them. My only worry is that I’m going to ask them to bring in charms to put into the breac. I’m worried that there’ll be bits of melted rings in it. Any tips on knowing if rings will be able for the heat?

    • sheila kiely says:

      Hi Ronan, thanks for the question. I would imagine that the plastic lucky bag type rings that you’re worried about should stand up to a bit of heat if they are well wrapped up in parchment paper or greaseproof paper before you add them in. I personally haven’t used any plastic ones before but if it was me I’d take my chances! Good luck, Sheila.

      • Ronan Breathnach says:

        Just to let you know 28 children just made 6 of these last week. Had a ball and they all came out great. Even some of those that thought ‘fruit and raisins are disgusting’ loved the break. Thanks for the recipe. Treats worked out great too

  5. Laura K says:

    Hi Sheila, thanks for the great recipe, I tried it today and it worked a treat. I used stork instead of butter to make it dairy free for my little ones and it worked well. I reproduced the recipe on my blog I hope this is ok. (dairyfreekids.wordpress.org)

    • sheila kiely says:

      Hi Laura, thank you for trying out the recipe and taking time to leave a comment – flattered that you considered it good enough to reproduce and I’ll be checking out your version. Thanks, Sheila 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s