Give me a generous slice of tea brack served with lashings of proper Yorkshire tea in a china cup (of course!) and I’m dangerously close to heaven! The dense, moist tea brack bursting with flavour and plump, juicy dried fruits is deeply satisfying. It’s a tasty tea-time treat I was brought up on and I find it hard to resist even now.
My mum learned how to make tea brack from my granny and it’s been a real family favourite ever since. Mum always baked two tea bracks at a time, as my three ever-hungry teenage brothers would hover at the kitchen door when they were baking, ready to demolish one moments after it came out of the oven!
Yorkshire ‘brack’ is the best tea brack you can get.
Brack is a Yorkshire word used to describe a cake made without the addition of fat, although it can’t claim to be fat-free as other ingredients (dried fruits and eggs) contain some fat.
Yorkshire Brack is a doddle to make, but like all good things, it takes time, as the dried fruit is ‘steeped’ (soaked) in hot strong tea to plump it up. It’s slow food not fast food! In Granny’s day, the tea-pot warmed on the stove all day, getting progressively stronger and stronger. You couldn’t quite stand your teaspoon up in it, but there were days when it was a close call. It was this dark and treacly ‘brew’ that Granny used to make her brack.
Yorkshire folk are famously frugal and this tea brack is the embodiment of that spirit. Some newer tea brack recipes soak the dried fruit whisky or rum, but your true Yorkshire housewife would laugh her sensible pants off at these ‘newfangled’ ideas and my Grandad would have called it a waste of good whisky…
I always use well-mashed Yorkshire tea for this recipe but you can switch things up a little if you like. You’ll need a strong flavoured tea, so delicate teas like oolong, green or herbal just won’t give the same depth of flavour.
Brown sugar adds depth of flavour and it’s stirred in gently after the dried fruit has plumped up from the tea. You’ll want to keep the fruit whole, so keep your food processor in the cupboard and reach for the old mixing bowl and wooden spoon! Once the fruit is coated in sugar, the flour and beaten egg are stirred in before baking. I use rice flour to produce a gluten free bake.
Real Yorkshire folk like nothing better than a slice of good strong Cheddar to go with their brack!
In our house, this tea brack was so popular, we called it ‘cut and come again cake’ as that’s what happened every time…
Granny's recipe for traditional Yorkshire tea brack has been in the family for almost 100 years now. It tastes just as good now as it did way back when.
- 1/4 pint Hot strong tea preferably good old Yorkshire tea!
- 8 oz Sultanas
- 4 oz Raisins
- 4 oz Currants
- 2 oz Mixed peel
- 8 oz Rice flour use self-raising if you're not following a gluten-free diet
- 1 Medium egg, beaten
- 3 oz Demerara sugar plus 1 tbsp for decoration
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
Mix together the dried fruit and pour the hot tea over it to steep
Cover and leave overnight (or at least a couple of hours) until the fruit is plump and most of the tea has been absorbed
Stir the sugar into the fruit mixture, by hand, taking care not to break up the fruit
Gently stir in the egg, then the flour
Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.
Put the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the leftover sugar over the top of the loaf, to give a lovely crunchy top
Bake in a preheated oven 160 C, 325 F, Mark 3 for about 1½ hours (you'll need longer if you've used a larger egg!
Cool the tea bread on a wire rack before slicing (if you get the chance)