I first learned to make tea brack from a cook book my mother bought me when I was 14. It was the first and last recipe I tried out from that book. Of all the recipes in the collection, it was one of the very easiest and I was irresistably drawn by the fact that I had to pour scalding hot tea over the fruit and let it sit overnight. What further piqued my interest was the exclusion of butter. A cake without butter. To fourteen year old me, brought up on a steady diet of stupendously buttery chocolate, sugee and pound cakes, the very idea was radical.
tea brack (tea soaked fruit loaf)
prep overnight cook 1 hr 10 mins makes a 12 slice loaf
3 bags good, black tea (Yorkshire Red Label or any good Assam based blend)
300 ml (1 1/2 cups) freshly boiled very hot water
150 g (1cup) pitted prunes, diced
100 g (1cup) chopped candied citrus peel
100 g (1/2 cup) glace cherries, diced
4 tbsp whisky
90 g -120 g (3/4 - 1 cup) molasses sugar or any soft, dark sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g (2 cups) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice or your favourite cake spice blend
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven at 150 C (300 F). Line a 23 cm (9 in) by 10 cm (4 in) by 7.5 cm (3 in) loaf tin.
Make tea with the tea bags and hot water, steeping for 5 minutes, to get a strong brew. Gently squeeze tea bags into teacup, before discarding.
Put diced fruit and whisky into a large mixing bowl and pour over the hot tea. Stir and cover. Keep overnight or at least 8 hours. If in a rush, soak for 1 hour or until mixture is cold.
Stir sugar into fruit mix until more or less dissolved. Stir in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt and sieve in 2 or 3 lots over egg and fruit mixture. Fold in lightly but thoroughly with a large, thin, flat spoon until no flour is visible. Don't overmix or loaf will be heavy textured.
Transfer batter into tin and level top. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a small pointed knife comes out clean from the centre. Remove from tin and cool on wire rack. Slice when slightly warm or cold and serve with strong milky tea. Slices may be eaten plain, or spead with butter. I like it with butter and a little golden syrup.