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Archive for March 17, 2017

RECIPE: Tea Brack, An Irish Sweet Bread

Tea Brack

Barmbrack

Irish Breakfast Tea

[1] Brack, an Irish tea bread, is traditionally round (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] But it can be a rectangular loaf (photo courtesy Stasty). [3] Enjoy it with a cup of tea (photo AG Photographer | Canstock).

 

Brack is short for barmbrack, a traditional Irish sweet bread.

The original barmbrack was a yeast bread with raisins and sultanas. Barm is a type of yeast and brack is a loaf of bread.

Call it brack for short.

In Ireland it is sometimes called bairín breac, Gaelic for “speckled loaf.” The speckling refers to the raisins and sultanas in the bread.

That’s why it’s also called Irish Freckle Bread, a name which may go over better with kids and uncurious eaters.

Call it what you will, today’s brack has ditched the yeast to become a moist, dense, packed-with-fruit breakfast and snack bread. It’s usually made in flattened rounds, but a loaf pan will do (and is easier to slice, in our opinion).

It’s moderately sweet, like a zucchini bread or a raisin muffin. It is typically served with breakfast and afternoon tea; hence, tea brack. Some people like it toasted with butter.

Barmbrack has also evolved into an Irish Halloween tradition. The Halloween version has fortune-telling trinkets hidden in the bread.

RECIPE: IRISH TEA BRACK

This recipe comes from the award-winning cookbook, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

It uses brewed tea as its liquid. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey for 2 tablespoons of the tea.

Prep time is 10-15 minutes, bake time is 60-70 minutes. Cut to modest size, you can get 16 servings from an 8″ round cake.

Serve it with a cup of tea, of course; and with softened butter if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brewed hot tea; Irish breakfast tea is a good choice
  • 1 cup raisins, packed
  • 1/2 cup currants, packed
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, snipped into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups Irish-style wholemeal flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons coarse sparkling white sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the hot tea over the dried fruits in a medium-sized bowl. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm, about 1 hour.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 2″ round cake pan. If your pan isn’t at least 2″ deep, use a 9″ round pan.

     
    3. STIR together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the dried fruit and any remaining liquid. Stir until thoroughly combined. The batter will be thick and stiff.

    4. ADD the egg, mixing till thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out moist, but without clinging crumbs.

    5. REMOVE the bread from the oven and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Customize Your St. Patrick’s Day Bagel

    Green bagels are a novelty on St. Patrick’s Day. But here’s a more elegant way to enjoy your bagel, with green fruits and vegetables.

    The concept can be applied to any holiday or occasion with theme colors (see the lists below), and can be part of a bagel buffet for brunch. Bonus: It’s a way to add an extra helping of produce to your daily intake.

    On top of the cream cheese, arrange fruits and/or vegetables in your color theme, as demonstrated by Arla Foods, maker of the cream cheese spreads used on the bagel (photo #1 and photo #6 at the bottom).

    Fruit on bagels beyond a raisin bagel? See photo #5, below—and try it on English muffins, too.

    Pick some fruits and/or vegetables from your color list, and get started. The green group has the most options.

    (Note: Specialty colors, such as yellow watermelon or purple bell peppers, aren’t typically found at supermarkets. Head to a specialty produce store or a farmers market.)

    GREEN FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli (including rabe and rapini)
  • Capers
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Green apples, figs, grapes, plums
  • Green beans
  • Green bell pepper
  • Green olives
  • Green onion (scallion) tops
  • Green peas
  • Herbs (basil, dill, parsley, etc.)
  • Jalapeño
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuces (everything from arugula to watercress)
  • Pickles/gherkins
  • Sprouts
  • Sugar snap peas, snow peas
  • Zucchini
  •  
    ORANGE FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Chiles (aji amarillo, habanero, Thai yellow chile)
  • Dried apricots
  • Kumquats
  • Mango
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Orange cherry or heirloom tomatoes
  • Orange or mandarin segments
  • Orange watermelon
  • Papaya
  •  
    PURPLE/BLUE FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Berries: blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries
  • Dried blueberries
  • Eggplant (grilled)
  • Purple figs, grapes, plums
  • Purple olives
  • Red cabbage
  • Specialty varieties: purple bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, corn, potatoes, string beans
  •  
    RED FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Dried cherries or cranberries
  • Jalapeño or other red chile
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Radicchio or red endive
  • Raspberries or strawberries
  • Red apples, grapes, plums
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red grapes
  • Red onion
  • Red tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  •  
    YELLOW FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Apples (golden delicious and others)
  • Chiles (aji, banana, golden cayenne, lemon, Hungarian yellow wax, pepperoncini, etc.)
  • Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Yellow watermelon
  •  

    Green Bagel Toppings

    Green Bagels

    Green Bagels

    Shamrock Bagels

    Bagel With Fruit Topping

    [1] and [6] The alternative solution from Arla Foods. [2] Conventional green bagels from Einstein Bros Bagels. [3] Fancy (and $6 each!) at the Wynn Las Vegas. [4] The creativity award goes to the shamrock bagels at Sunrise Bagels and Cafe in Wyckoff, New Jersey. [5] Fruit-topped bagel from Number 2 Pencil.

     
    Green Bagel Toppings

    [6] Bagels with a buffet of green fruits and vegetables (photo courtesy Arla Foods).
      

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