Saturday, September 14, 2013 |
There’s a constant clatter in my head these days, and when I slow down long enough to listen to it, it sounds like this: “I’m going to Ireland!  Oh my goodness, I’m going to Ireland!  I’m not ready!  I’m ready!!!  I’m nervous!  IRELAND!” (repeat).  In preparation I’ve been doing the usual – reading guidebooks, purchasing a new rain jacket, confirming reservations and so on… but I’ve also been reading Irish fiction and making Irish recipes.

One of those recent reads was Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake.  Loved that book!  Full of humor and deliciousness.  For my latest Irish baking experiment I’ve made a traditional cake called Barmbrack, modified slightly from the recipe in Keyes’ cookbook (and leaving out her hilarious commentary!).  It’s usually served at Halloween and filled with surprises (a ring to signify you’ll be getting married, a penny to symbolize wealth – you get the idea), like a King Cake.  I made the cake but omitted the surprises, as I’m sure I’ll have plenty of those while traveling without wishing for more!  Oh and yes, I leave in 4 days!  So excited!



3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
zest of one (medium) orange
2 cups black tea, cooled
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten


Place the sugar, raisins, orange zest and tea in a bowl.  Cover and leave to soak overnight (or for at least 5 hours, like I did the first time I made this recipe!).

Grease a 1-lb. loaf pan and line with parchment paper, set aside.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift the flour and baking soda into the tea/sugar/fruit mixture, then add the beaten egg and stir well.  Pour batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour 35 minutes (do a toothpick test from one hour on just to check).

Let stand in pan for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cut into slices and serve with butter.  Serves 8-10.

OH DEAR GOODNESS THIS IS HEAVEN.  Sorry.  I didn’t intend to write that out in all caps, but the happiness that is in my mouth right now begged for an expression.  You can see the list of ingredients above – it’s nothing fancy, strange or exotic.  And there’s no magic in the preparation, either, except letting the fruit marinate in the sugar and tea.  And yet.  The two slices of cake that I just ate, slathered in butter, were sinfully delicious and absolutely lovely.  Make this cake for how it smells while baking.  Eat it for pure pleasure!  Finish it in one sitting because you won’t be able to help yourself!

Note: This cake is best just out of the oven, but reheats perfectly well in the oven 2-3 days later, too.  Probably you can freeze it, too – if you can resist eating it!

Recommended for: a moist, crowd-pleasing sweetbread, a welcome addition to autumn and holiday baking (it just smells right for those seasons!), and for the days when you just need to eat something comfortable and fragrant with your coffee/tea.  

Interested in other food-related posts?  Check out Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking!


Charlotte said...

That sounds delicious!

Alex said...

Sounds wonderful. Have a great time in Ireland.

JoAnn said...

OMG... I can practically smell this. YUM!!

Have a great trip!

Anonymous said...

This sounds absolutely delicious! But is it sad that I want to replace the raisins with chocolate chips?
Have an amazing time in Ireland!!

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

I had that exact soundtrack playing in my head last year before our trip to Ireland! That was my first overseas trip in decades. The soundtrack was slightly less manic this year before our France trip with some experience to draw on that everything was going to be fine and fun.

Our spring trip didn't include barmbrack, but we had some lovely baked goods. Your barmbrack looks amazing.

Carole said...

Have a lovely time in Ireland! Cheers

Liviania said...

I want to eat this cake.

Enjoy Ireland! I've heard nothing but good things about the country.

Beth F said...

Ok, ok -- MUST make this. Yum. My BFF is off to Ireland in three days. Must be the time to go.

Molly said...

This sounds fabulous - I am certain the combination of tea and orange puts it over the top.

When I am yearning for a virtual return to London - I will prepare this with a cup of Earl Gray :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Whoa. Wow. YUM!

Patty said...

in time for auturmn, this cakes fits the bill perfectly! (btw, there is Irish Breakfast tea??) Enjoy your time in Ireland!

Col (Col Reads) said...

My kids love a slice of quick bread in their lunch -- I'm going to try this one this week! Have an amazing time in Ireland! My family is from Cork and Tipperary. I hope you get to see them, but wherever you go it will be beautiful.

Tina said...

The barmbrack looks good and I have to say - I am so excited for you to be going to Ireland. It's so beautiful there. I am jealous!!

kayerj said...

oh my goodness, you're going to Ireland!

Ryan said...

That looks so good, and any cake that uses tea has to be good. said...

Great list! I wonder if More than This is at all a reference to this Roxy Music song.

I hope so!

I just came across your blog because I'm trying to get more connected to other YA readers/writers/fans. Keep up the awesome bloggin'!

Sara Crawford

Vicki said...

That looks like a recipe my husband would love!!

Anonymous said...

Replying belatedly... I read this a while back, and remembered it last week when my 4yo, who can never have alcohol due to medical reasons, had a meltdown when she found out she wouldn't be able to eat the fruitcake we were making (Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake). My love kindly made it for her, using as many of AB's fruits as we could fit in a cup. Sadly, it didn't quite work for her taste-wise, but she was appeased and now we have something delicious to eat for ourselves!

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