Today I'm going to share a family recipe with you. This was passed on from my Gran to my Mum, and then on to me, with each of us making little modifications along the way. From a quick look at google, it would seem that 'officially' barmbrack is actually a traditional Irish yeasted bread, usually made around Halloween, but our version is definitely cake!
I love this recipe both because of the childhood memories attached to it (every time we went away on holiday Mum made a couple of these to take with us; no picnic was complete without a couple of slices of barmbrack!), and also because it's actually pretty healthy, for cake! It is largely made of fruit, it has no added fat and not a huge amount of added sugar either, as cakes go. It's also dairy free, which is a bonus for us as my husband has a dairy free diet.
- 500g mixed dried fruit (I used organic mixed vine fruits)
- ½ pint very strong tea
- 200g brown sugar
- couple of tablespoons of marmalade (optional)
- 400g self-raising flour
- 1 egg
Make up ½ pint of strong tea. Let the tea-bags soak for as long as possible so that it is really strong. Put the fruit, brown sugar and marmalade (if using) into a bowl. I also added glace cherries because my husband loves them.
Add the tea to the bowl (removing tea-bags first!), mix it all together so that the fruit is covered by the liquid, then cover the bowl and leave to soak overnight.
The next morning, preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas mark 4/350°F). Grease a cake or loaf tin, and line the base. I use a 20cm (8") round cake tin, but a slightly smaller one or any other shape should be fine. Break the egg into the fruit/tea mix, and stir in, then add the flour, stirring until it is completely mixed in. Tip the mixture into your prepared cake tin.
Place in the preheated oven 180°C (Gas mark 4/350°F). After 10 minutes turn down to 160°C (Gas mark 3/325°F), and bake for another hour. Check with a skewer - if it comes out clean then it is ready, if not bake for up to ½ hour longer, checking every 10 minutes until the skewer comes out clean. Turn the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
This cake is best served cut into slices and buttered, although is also tasty without the butter (and lower fat, obviously!). Kept in an airtight tin it will keep for ages, although I can't be specific because ours never lasts very long! It would be a great thing to use as a special treat in a healthy lunchbox.
This post was linked up to Allergy Free Wednesdays; click on the button below to find a whole host of allergy friendly recipes!