Irish tea barmbrack

Felt like I had ran a marathon by the time I got home yesterday… had raced through work, skipped lunch, had very little conversation with anyone, just so I could leave early enough to bring the small one trick-or-treating.

Some days I find it quite difficult as a mum – especially when the small one is on school holidays – to find that work life balance everyone talks about. There are times I can’t breath at work for the amount of jobs required designing, deadlines being pushed, the thought of late nights looming and THAT fear of not getting home in time to have a snuggle with my small one before his bedtime.  Ok… so it’s not everyday or even every week, AND I do love what I do, but some days it does ware you down.

I often daydream of being a stay-at-home mum… to be there when my small one finishes school each day… to get a big snuggle whilst watching afternoon cartoons together… to help him with his homework… even just simply to make him his dinner in the evenings. Oh to dream…

Well… I made it home on time and we did go trick-or-treating… and we ate lots and lots of candy (I love that word) and then we came home and ate some more and I couldn’t fit anymore in. So instead, I am having the traditional Irish tea barmbrack that I made at the weekend, toasted for breakfast with my morning coffee… yum.

Irish Tea Barmbrack

Makes 12 slices • Baking time 1½ hours
Adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen

110g mixed raisins, currants and sultannas
50g mixed chopped glacé fruit (orange, melon, papaya and cherries)
250ml hot, strong black tea
50ml Irish whiskey
1 egg slightly beaten
200g soft brown sugar
225g self-raising flour sieved
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1 orange

1. Put the dried fruit and mixed chopped glacé fruit into a bowl. Cover with the hot tea and whiskey and leave to soak overnight.
2. Line a 450 g (1 lb) loaf tin with parchment paper.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4/160 (fan).
4. Add all the ingredients to the fruit and tea mixture and stir well.
5. Wrap the ring in parchment paper and add to the batter.
6. Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin.
7. Cook for about one and a half hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
8. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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