Irish brack is a family tradition at our house. It started when I was about fourteen. When most of my siblings went to the library they would check out adventure stories, or mysteries or the latest romance novels, while I took home cookbooks. Cookbooks from other countries were my absolute favorite and one of the first countries I picked was Ireland. My mother is Irish so naturally I wanted to cook some authentic food from that country. After trying several recipes from the book, I learned two things about Irish cooking; (1) plain apples and pork chops are not as flavorful as you would think and (2) there is nothing better than a slice of brack with a cup of tea during the cold month of March in Nebraska.
Every Saint Patrick’s Day since I checked out that cookbook I have made a loaf of Brack. It wasn’t until I met my good friend Elizabeth however that my recipe became officially Irish Brack. Elizabeth was born in Ireland. When she learned I liked to make Brack she shared with me her Grandmother Ingrid’s recipe. The recipe I had been using was similar to the one she gave me with the exception of marmalade. Grandma Ingrid’s recipe adds three tablespoons of orange marmalade, which enhances the spices in the bread and I love seeing the bits of orange rind when I cut into the loaf. Irish Brack is a tea infused, sweet and spicy bread, full of plump raisins. This bread is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of special equipment just a bowl, a bundt pan and a little time.
Here is a list of the ingredients you will need to make the Brack:
2 Cups of Strong Tea
1 ½ lbs of Raisins
2 Cups of Brown Sugar
3 T Orange Marmalade
4 Cups of All Purpose Flour (a tablespoon more to flour the pan)
3 ½ Teaspoons of Baking Powder
Bakes in a Bundt Pan or Two Loaf Pans
Start by brewing 2 cups of strong tea. You can use a black tea but I recommend either a Chia Tea or an Orange Pekoe. I like to use at least two tea bags, sometimes three to brew the tea.
Let the tea cool slightly. While you are waiting for it to cool combine the 1 ½ pounds of raisins with the brown sugar in a medium bowl.
Pour the tea over the raisins and brown sugar and stir to combine. Put a lid on the bowl or plastic wrap and allow the mixture to soak overnight. Soaking the raisins allows them to rehydrate. The raisins also soak up the lovely tea and sugar mixture. I like to put my raisins to soak after dinner so it is ready to mix up right away in the morning. You can also do it first thing in the morning and then stir it up while making dinner.
Once the mixture has soaked for at least 8-10 hours then it is time to finish the bread.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure the oven rack is on a low position. Prepare the bundt pan by coating it with a thin layer of cooking spray and lightly flour.
Pour the raisin, sugar and tea mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add in 1 egg and 3 tablespoons of orange marmalade. Stir to combine well.
Next add in the 4 cups of flour and 3 ½ teaspoons of baking powder. Mix with a spatula until the flour is well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth out the top with the spatula.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees. A knife inserted into the brack should come out clean.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then loosen the brack from the edge of the pan with a butter knife. Invert the brack onto a plate or a serving platter. Allow to cool. Slice and serve with butter. I like to serve mine with Irish butter when I can get it. The Irish butter has a bit more flavor and complements the bread well.
I hope you enjoy this tasty Irish treat as much as we have through the years. I encourage you to talk to your relatives, share recipes and ENJOY a taste of your heritage.
Talk to you soon!