“Brack is our favourite Irish recipe. It’s nut free, so both my boys pack it into lunchboxes with a scrape of butter. On any occasion that my husband is not overburdened with sweetness and light, I offer him buttered brack. It works faster than whiskey. Within moments his face becomes improbably buoyant and I’m sure I hear him squeaking like a hamster in heat. We change it up some weeks, using rooibos tea and lemon zest for example, or a coffee and date combo for adults.” Susan J White
Makes 1 large loaf
320g sultanas and/or raisins
350ml cold strong black tea (or rooibos for kids)
220g sprouted spelt flour or 200g regular spelt flour
120g light muscovado sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground allspice or mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
Zest of 1 unwaxed orange
- Soak your little army of dried fruit in the strong cold tea overnight (or for eight hours). Hot tea may sound preferable, but you’ll end up with no soaking liquid, resulting in a drier dough – a snoresome but important fact.
- The next morning, fire up your oven to 180°C/160˚C fan/gas mark 4. In a large bowl (or a saucepan if you haven’t got a big enough bowl), tumble in your preferred flour, sugar, baking powder and your selection of spices. Rake through carefully.
- Quickly beat the egg and orange zest in a cup, then add to your puddle of soaked fruit. Scrape the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Work it through until lusciously glossy.
- Transfer into a loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper, ideally a 675g tin, and bake for 60 minutes. If you only have a 900g loaf tin, bake your brack for 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out dry when gently pierced into the centre. Got a 450g loaf tin? It will need extra time in the oven to make sure the centre is cooked through. 75 minutes should do the trick.
- Remove from the oven once cooked and leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before unveiling onto a wire rack.
- Serve thick slices with a smudge of butter and a hot cuppa. If you want it to look really shiny on top, professional bakers brush it with a simple sugar syrup, which you can too.
Per Serving 148kcals, 1g fat (0.3g saturated), 34.6g carbs (17g sugars), 3.7g protein, 3.1g fibre, 0.013g sodium