A while ago I was invited to an ‘all girls’ afternoon tea by a friend. Lots of tea served with dainty little savoury nibbles, scones and cake … wonderful cake! One cake in particular took my fancy. A moist cake filled with dried apricots and prunes which had been soaked in strong coffee. I had made cake with fruit soaked in tea before, but never soaked in coffee. Over the following days I did some hunting and some experimenting. I love Mocha (the mixture of coffee and chocolate) and one recipe that caught my eye added nut chocolate to the cake mixture in place of fruits. Unfortunately the recipe was tasty but the mixture far too moist, so not really successful.
In the end, I decided on a variation of my existing Bran Brack – Irish Tea Bread recipe (also sometimes called Bara Brith or Barm Brack) that always comes out well, but using coffee in place of tea and adding either nut chocolate or chocolate and nuts. The coffee (preferably Fairly Traded) needs to be strong and freshly ground for best flavour. It is very important not to omit the soaking in black coffee which is essential for re-hydrating the dried fruit to make it juicy. Earlier in the day, when I had a cup of fresh coffee, I made an extra cup and left it to go cold. Use Fairly Traded nuts and chocolate too, if available. One third of the amount of dried fruit in the original Bran Brack recipe has been replaced by roughly chopped chocolate and nuts. I used a small bar (100g) of Chocolate with Almonds plus a few extra almonds to make up the weight. (Hazelnuts or Brazil Nuts would be equally as suitable and possibly walnuts, but not peanuts.) It is essential that the loaf tin is properly lined with baking parchment as it is very inclined to stick. This is a moist cake with a background coffee flavour with, providing the chocolate chunks are not too small, a concentrated taste of chocolate in some bites. Mocha Fruit & Nut Cake is lovely with a cup of tea or coffee: delicious when still slightly warm, but much easier to cut when cold. Perhaps I ought to re-visit the original recipe and try a version using apricots and prunes in place of the mixed fruit, nut and chocolate…
Mocha Fruit & Nut Cake
8ozs/225g Mixed Dried Fruit
8fl ozs/225ml strong cold black coffee (preferably freshly ground & Fairly Traded)
4ozs/115g Demerara or soft brown sugar
40zs/115g Milk Chocolate with nuts (100g bar plus a few extra of the same nuts)
30zs/85g Milk Chocolate & 1oz/30g nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, brazils) 40zs/115g in total
8ozs/225g Self Raising flour
1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the cold coffee, preferably overnight.
2. Pre-heat oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3
3. Line a 2lb loaf tin.
4. Chop the chocolate and nuts into large pieces. (Cut each square of chocolate into three or four pieces. Nuts should be chopped into 2-4 pieces each – more for large nuts.)
5. Mix the egg and the flour with the ingredients that have been soaking overnight and the chopped chocolate and nuts.
6. Pour into the prepared tin. Push down any pieces of chocolate that stand out from the cake mixture so they are hidden: this prevents the chocolate from burning.
7. Bake for about 55 mins – 1 hour and turn out when cool. Cool on wire tray.
Bran Brack – Irish Tea Bread
(this is the original recipe)