Irish brack

It’s been a while, eh?

I was on a bit of a vacation and then I was recovering from said vacation and now I’m back at it.

Well, I was back at it—two days ago when I made this Irish brack—but then things got busy (or, you know, TV happened) and I didn’t get to writing about it until now.

So here we go. I’ll try to remember as much as possible.

Last week I was trying to think of something I could bake on Saturday when I was babysitting my two-year-old nephew and seven-year-old niece. Something easy—a one-spoon recipe was a must—and something that could be fairly quick to throw together.

Those parameters left me with bread-based items. There was no way I was going to brave a pudding or dessert with these children.

A one-spoon bread recipe that essentially just needed ingredients chucked into a tin? Hello Irish brack.

What is Irish brack, you ask?

I have no idea. A tea-soaked fruit bread from what I could tell, but I guess you’ll have to wait until the end of this blog post to see the final product. (Or you can just scroll down.)

(I mean, you could always just scroll down. I honestly am in amazement that people even read these words.)

*waves to faithful readers*

Tea!

Step one of this recipe is a day-before step wherein I’m supposed to brew tea in a bowl and add dried mixed fruit and brown sugar.

I bought this mixed dried fruit ages ago, and I assume it’s the kind of thing this bake requires.

Brits are all about their dried fruit and veg, which makes me doubt that we have the appropriate version of it on this side of the pond.

You may notice a sudden drastic change of light, I think this is pre- and post-sunset.

Since I am also dog-, cat- and house-sitting this weekend, I pre-measured most of my ingredients and it’s honestly kind of great. I feel like I’m on a budget cooking show where they use plastic Ziploc containers instead of fancy ramekins.

This recipe calls for a strong breakfast blend, but I’d forgotten to bring my strong breakfast blend and I didn’t want caffeine affecting the children I’d be babysitting, so I went with a decaf orange pekoe.

Add boiling water:

Add sugar and mixed fruit:

Stir:

Let the gross substance sit overnight under a loose towel.

Now here’s the thing, at home, that’s a completely doable request, but in a house with a cat who does who-knows-what when humans are asleep, this is risky. All I could think was waking up to fruity tea spilled all over the kitchen, so I opted to put the bowl in the sink and cover said towel-covered bowel with a plate.

*the next day*

Good news. The bowl thing worked. The cat behaved—at least in that respect. I have no idea what she all got up to while I was in a coma-level deep sleep.

You may notice the lighting and counter change, that’s because instead of pre- and post-sunset, this is pre-lunch at my sister’s. Time to sift those dry ingredients:

Thankfully the two-year-old didn’t want to help. I love him, but he’s a disaster. The seven-year-old was keen, though, so I let her sift. It’s a tricky skill to learn, but she did a great job.

Time to add the chilled butter.

She was asking me what I was doing at every step, so I asked her to read the instructions and then explained what “diced” meant and how to “chill” butter that had softened. This very much could have been a cooking show.

Then I had to use my hands to rub the butter into the flour—a step she was amazed at. I could sense her jealousy that I got to use my hands, so we later made snickerdoodles because those were always the cookies that my mom would let us use our hands to mix as kids. She also got to learn the important step of over-washing your hands.

After adding the beaten egg:

I took the tea bags out of the fruit-tea mix and added that:

Then I started to mix it and got her to finish:

While she mixed and mixed and mixed (the recipe said to mix thoroughly so I didn’t worry about over-mixing), I prepped the tin with butter and a long strip of baking paper. Then I added her mixture:

Now, time to let this thing cook for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes before cooling completely. This loaf is not to be enjoyed warm. It’s actually best enjoyed after a day or two wrapped in foil, but it was hard enough to tell her she had to wait for her mom to come home before we could enjoy it. I wasn’t going to tell her she’d get nothing at all.

*an hour and a bit later*

Voila!

As I write this two days later, I just realized something: I never did share this with my niece. We made snickerdoodles and she wanted those and by the time my sister came home, she had run off to do other things. Whoops. Sorry, kid!

My sister and I did sneak a slice each, though.

According to Mary and Paul, this is best enjoyed with good butter and some punch cheese. I’m not sure what constitutes “punchy cheese,” but my sister had some gouda, so we tried that.

And I have to say, it was really good! Not a combo I’d normally think of—tea-soaked fruit bread and cheese—but a combo that would be quite good paired with a cup of tea.

Time to wrap this thing back up in foil and let it sit for a couple days before bringing it to work. Let’s hope it’s still good—or even better.

I should remember to pick up some punchy cheese.

*googles “punchy cheese”*

UPDATE: I did not find punchy cheese—Google was zero help. So I just brought the bread in sans butter and cheese and it still disappeared. Most people had no idea what Irish brack was—all but one. She was the only person who could explain to me what “brack” was and that it’s a poor man’s gingerbread for folks who are making baked goods over an open fire in a cottage somewhere. Good to know! Also she approved, so that’s good enough for me.

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