Brack shouldn’t be just for Halloween

Another brown bake for you. Brack. It really is far too lovely to be the preserve of Halloween but I seldom think to make it at any other time. It definitely doesn’t qualify as a cake or dessert but it’s delicious as it is with a cup of tea or if it’s getting on a bit it’s almost even better toasted with loads of butter.

I didn’t bother putting any choking hazards in mine but if you are of a mood let me save you the trip to wikipedia. Hidden fortune telling items may include;

A pea; you think it would be bad enough to find a pea in your sweet treat but that’s not the end of your misfortune, apparently it means you shalln’t marry that year. Shame.

A stick; again, not a particularly pleasant thing to encounter but also foretells an unhappy marriage or that you’ll be ‘continually in dispute’.

A rag; this cheery number suggests a future of poverty. Brill.

A coin; happier this time – suggests a bit of good fortune or wealth.

A ring; got yourself a marriage within the year.

So. Bake in these charming health hazards if you fancy. May I suggest cleaning the coin in vinegar the night before baking and wrapping each individual item in a bit of parchment. Here’s a handy link to the Red Cross’ site on first aid for choking.

As for the cake itself, I really would be concerned for anyone who struggles to turn out a fairly tasty loaf. The recipe involves almost no baking ability or equipment. The most complicated stage is lining the tin and perhaps remembering to soak the fruit.

I should also mention, this is a slightly adapted recipe from Odlums.

Oven temperature 170 Celsius

Mixed dried fruit             400g – I used a mix of sultanas, cranberries, glace cherries, mixed peel and prunes but sure whatever you fancy yourself

Tea                                      300ml – made with 2 teabags

Self raising flour               240g

Mixed spice                        a scant teaspoon

Caster sugar                       75g

Light muscavado sugar    50g

Egg                                        1

Optional; 1 tablespoon of golden syrup

You start by soaking your fruit. Weigh out all the dried fruit. Cut any big bits, like the cherries, into small chunks and put it all into a large bowl.

lots o' fruit
lots o’ fruit

Boil the kettle. Make 300ml of tea using two teabags and let it brew for 5mins.

tea and fruit
tea and fruit

Once brewed pour the tea over the fruit and give it a good stir. Put an upturned bowl over the bowl and set aside for a while. Overnight works well but failing that if you start the soak in the morning it should be good to go by lunch.

fruit in tea
fruit in tea

Anyway. When it’s ready the fruit should have plumped up nicely but there will still be spare liquid hanging around. Fear not.

it doesn't look it but there be spare liquid in that bowl
it doesn’t look it but there be spare liquid in that bowl

Preheat the oven and line a tin. I prefer my brack with right angles so I used a square tin (15cm) but you can use a loaf tin or even a round tin if you can’t handle all the angles. You can see how to line a square tin here.

the tricky bit
the tricky bit

Pour the flour and mixed spice in on top of the fruit and stir well. Then tip in the sugars and egg and stir some more till it’s all nicely combined.

I am aware it's out of focus but it is still infomative
I am aware it’s out of focus but it is still informative

Pour the batter into the lined tin, smooth down the top slightly and pop it into the oven.

It’ll take about 1hr but as per usual it’s best to turn it around half way through for even-ness sakes. It’s done when it’s fairly firm to the touch and a pointy thing comes out pretty clean having pierced the cake.

I went all out and even glazed mine. All that involves is pouring about 1 tablespoon of golden syrup onto the cooked brack when it’s still sitting, hot in its tin. Then spread it all over the top using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon.

It is suggested, not by me, that you wrap this little beauty in greaseproof paper and leave it for two days before eating. This is crazy talk. Just eat it.


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