maandag 4 november 2013

Miss Bennet's Barmbrack

Sitting on a chair in the living room of our charismatic country cottage. Sipping tea and watching a Keeping up Appearances rerun. I didn't feel like a Hyacinth at all. With a biscuit (or three) a complimenting my white tea & a scarf casually wrapped around my shoulders I felt a lot like a Janeite...

Because you see, this is not your everyday ordinary scarf, but a pale blue Elizabeth Bennet beauty. I got this as a gift from Jasmine who is also a fan of our dear Jane. So much in fact that it inspires her to sing. How cool is that?!

One Saturday afternoon I found myself standing in our little hallway. Holding a big white envelope & holding my breath ;) Saying to myself, is this what I think it is? Yes it was! Remember me telling you a while ago that I was expecting a gift in the mail? This wasn't specifically for my B-day but you know, an amazing surprise all the same. She packaged it with great care in a matching light blue gift bag.

The scarf is SO pretty, it has embroidered flowers on it with a gold edge. In the bag was also a super sweet card with a golden bumble bee on it & you probably know that I love bumble bees :) She even wrote with a gold pen and all this "shine" brought a sparkle to my eyes. Thank you so much J, I feel so lucky!!!

Have been wearing it all the time, it goes with everything really. I decided to have an informal tea party, family only ;) We have all been under the weather with a touch of flu. It's not getting worse I believe, so that's a good sign!

When I was going through my recipes-to-try-sometime box a little later & spotted a BarmBrack, I made another pot of good strong tea. Not to drink but to soak the dried fruit in, which I would use in this Irish Bread the next day. See picture below.

It has to soak up overnight and in September when I wished to bake this bread I'd forgotten to do that. So I made up my mind to stick with the Irish tradition and wait for Halloween. Somehow I misplaced this idea and obviously I did not bake this for Hallow's eve. Even though I was a couple of days off, I made the baking plans. Better late than wait till next year right?! My sister had given me a cute lilac mixing bowl for my birthday, just like hers & I thought to put it to good use. Now I had plenty of time to watch Emma again, such comfort :)

Below a picture of the mixing bowl, you cannot see it's color as this photo is taken from above. The next morning : I made the dough, stirred in the fruit and preheated the oven. Mom came down and asked me what I was cooking. I had not shared my plans with her yet and had hoped to surprise her. Dad knew I'd filled a bowl with tea yesterday. He'd quizzed me about it earlier & I had calculated to have the tea bread ready before lunch, if I would get up early...

I overslept a bit and baking something new that you never made before requires more time. Oh well, now my mom could also look forward to it :D I placed the pretty new tea towel on the table (also a gift from my sister) and awaited the oven bell. Popped the bread in and set the timer. An hour later a pretty golden brown bread came easily out of the form and it smelled really lovely. Here it is:

My sister had a 50th birthday party to attend and couldn't join us. But the three of us had a small family tea party. Where mom & I had tea, Dad coffee and all of us a slice of homemade Irish bread, such bliss! When I carried it into the living room, where my parents awaited me, I jokingly said "Here's Miss Bennet with her Brambrack". I had hoped to take pretty pictures & discovered that the battery of my camera was empty :(

So you'll just have to use your imagination to picture in your mind each slice as the colorful mosaic that it was. Full of fruit & full of flavor, this particular recipe called for nutmeg and cinnamon. Mom said it felt a bit like Christmas. Wearing my blue scarf, having a slice of tea bread that tasted rich and sweet like cake, I couldn't agree more.

Do you like to wear scarves? Ever baked a Barmbrack? Like to have an informal "tea party"? Enjoy baking traditions? Tell me all about it!

Best Wishes,
Jo's Daughter

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