Our mum might have called this ‘no frills’ fruitcake but now it is probably ‘minimalist’ in hipster-speak. Known traditionally as barm brack, or just brack, it’s the everyman food of the Irish – the cut down version was only three ingredients, and one came out of the tap!
The stark original has no added sugar or fat, and can be made just fine with gluten free flour. If you want to try it, just take 4 cups each of dried fruit, self-raising flour and water, mix well (the batter is quite liquid, runny), put in a cake pan and bake at 160°C for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes – it’s okay if a skewer in the middle brings out a wee crumb, but not batter.
If you would like to try our version, the recipe is very simple and forgiving even for a novice. In our house it is often called afternoon tea cake because I make it with cold tea rather than water and one of our favourite teas is actually called Australian Afternoon Tea.
Just to manage your expectations, both versions come out more like a slice than a cake – I would say the original is more solid and slice like, while ours goes in the direction of a fruitcake but without being softened by the goodies you’d find in a fair dinkum fruitcake (like butter and booze!). A colleague tried our recipe and said they liked the “jammy-ness” of the fruit – love that, thank you! Her son came up with the combination of Earl Grey tea with mixed spice and ground ginger – sounds fabulous to me!
PS This works fine with gluten free flour.