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!