I was hoping to post a recipe for Irish soda bread, but so far I'm unsatisfied with the results of my experiments...so I'm falling back on another Irish bread. I've been making tea brack for years, messing with several recipes, and this is the one I used for the loaf pictured here.
Please note, though: the loaf doesn't really look like this. It's much, much darker, both inside and out. Blame my flash and my lack of photographic skills. Don't blame the bread -- it's dark and delicious.
Irish Tea Brack
1.5 cups cold black tea (good and strong), but make a little extra and set it aside, because you may need a little more.
3 cups raisins (usually I use regular raisins, but I include some golden raisins if I have them on hand)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
(Note: you can use fewer raisins and more sugar if you like, but in my opinon, the more raisins, the merrier)
1 tsp. rum flavoring
2 cups white whole wheat flour (you can use regular flour if you like)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl, cover, and leave for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Some recipes suggest lining it with wax paper. In my experience, that results in a slightly moister loaf.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Beat the egg and mix it into the wet ingredients.Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir well. You may need to add a little more tea, especially if you used the whole wheat flour, as it soaks up more moisture. Put the batter in the pan and bake for between 1 and 1.5 hours until done. Let it cool for a while before removing it from the pan. It's great with butter or just as is.
Here is the three-legged cat that belongs to the friends we visited in Northern Ireland this summer. She lost a leg due to an injury, but she's lively even without one of her front legs.
Here she is, a little annoyed at all the attention and preparing to walk away...
And here she is at rest.
I think she'd made a great character for a story someday!
She's Irish, after all. There's got to be some magic in her. Is she really just a cat, or is she something more?