Báirín Breac

Now we are at my favorite part of the season, the days of shifting down into hibernation mode.  Yesterday was not quite our usual post-Christmas day of relaxing as we woke up to a blown out tire and had a little fire in the oven in the evening.

Today, I am listening to the new CD that my Mom and Dad gifted me and working on New Year’s greetings to put in the mail.  The only thing that is bringing me down is that my husband wasn’t able to use his vacation time to take the week off like he usually does.   I hope you are able to take some time this week to do something for you.

This is when it won me over.

This is when it won me over.

We usually spend this week eating up the leftovers and playing with new toys and games.   I have a new toy to figure out, myself this year. The girls got us this Keurig thing and to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure about it at first.  It is not the sort of thing I would buy myself, that’s for sure.    I think sometimes my children pay more attention to me than I realize. I like for my drinks to be hot and I am always warming things up in saucepans and forgetting about them.  Apparently this has not gone unnoticed.  They also pointed out that I throw away a lot of tea and coffee because I make a pot and only drink a cup, or two. They got us a re-usable basket and I can use it to make  hot water for little pots of tea, too.

Speaking of tea,  this was the recipe that I have had the most requests for out of all the goodies I handed out for the holidays.   The key here is for the tea to be quite strong.  You want to make it in the morning and let it sit all day.   I usually use Irish Breakfast tea, but I’ve made  it with Earl Gray, too.

Irish Tea Bread, Barm BrackIrish Tea Bread (báirín breac or barmbrack)

12 Tbsp very, very strong tea
1 pound dried fruit – currants, raisins, cherries or any other dried fruit you like combined with 1 tsp grated orange zest
6 ounces light brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice 
1 egg
1 ounce melted  butter or olive oil
9 ounces unbleached organic flour  – (or any flour-like substance- almond meal works well in this recipe)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Brew the tea.  You should know that the original recipe calls for both whiskey and tea.  Two tablespoons whiskey and 10 tea works nicely. I prefer 4:8 but probably shouldn’t feed that to children. Mix together the hot tea and whiskey and pour over the dried fruit and orange zest in a bowl that can be covered. Allow to sit an hour. Add sugar. Let this mixture sit overnight.In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then mix in the remaining ingredients.   This dough is going to be sticky and traditionally you hide a ring in the loaf.  I bake little loaves to hand out to friends and they take about 20 minutes.  A larger loaf will take 30-40 minutes to cook.