Kitchen > Recipes > 5-ingredient Irish Tea Loaf (Tea Brack)

5-ingredient Irish Tea Loaf (Tea Brack)

5-ingredient Irish Tea Loaf (Tea Brack) | Border Park Kitchen

For food allergies and intolerances, please carefully check the ingredient list on each product before using or consuming.


  • 450ml strong black tea, cooled
  • 250g (2 cups) deglet noor (ordinary!) dates, pitted (no need to chop)
  • 140g (1 cup) sultanas
  • 360g (2 ½ cups) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  1. Soak fruit. In a large bowl, add tea and dried fruit, cover and leave to soak on the bench overnight. If it’s extremely warm weather, pop it in the fridge. (See note below for a speedier version).
  2. Preheat oven. Preheat oven to 150˚C. Line a large loaf tin (30cm x 12cm) with baking paper.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Add flour and egg to the soaked fruit, and stir to combine. It should be a wettish mixture, similar to muffins. It’s a fairly forgiving recipe – if it looks too dry, add a splash more tea (or water); if it’s too wet, add a sprinkle of flour.
  4. Spoon into tin. Pour into prepared tin and smooth top with wetted fingers.
  5. Bake for 55 – 70 minutes, or til a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the top is browning too quickly, cover tightly with foil.
  6. Rest and cool. Set aside to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve with:  

Slice thickly and spread with lashings of butter. Serve with a large pot of tea. It’s equally delicious toasted when served a day or so after baking.

  • Use sulphur-free dried fruit if necessary
  • Use gluten-free flour (self-raising)
  • Replace the egg with a flax egg – 1 tbsp flax meal and 3 tbsp water
  • Use any type of tea you wish – black, green, red, chai or herbal. Each will yield a slightly different flavoured and coloured loaf.
  • Use any dried fruit of choice, including raisins, currants, cranberries or glace cherries.
  • Wholemeal self-raising flour may be substituted in place of the white self-raising flour. You may need to add a splash more tea or water if the mixture looks too dry.
Boost the flavour:  
  • Add 1 tsp ground ginger, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon. (But truthfully, we love it without any added spices, so I recommend trying it as written first ? )
  • Replace 50ml of tea with Irish whisky (which is how it’s traditionally made)
Storage suggestions:  
  • Store for up to 7 days in an airtight container, or well-wrapped with a beeswax wrap or Gladwrap as it does dry out over time. If this occurs, toast it before serving.
  • Alternatively, wrap well and place in an airtight dish and freeze for up to 3 months.
Time Saving Tips:  

Use freshly brewed tea poured over the dried fruit. This way the fruit soaks while the tea cools, and the loaf can be made after a short 30-minute soaking.

Peri’s Tip:  

So I can make this at a moment’s notice, I place the cooled tea and dried fruit (without any soaking time) into a glass freezer-proof dish with an liquid-tight lid (approx 2L) and pop in the freezer. This way, I just have to defrost the mixture, and mix the remaining ingredients straight into the storage dish. Because of the extra soaking time, occasionally I add a few extra tablespoons of tea (or water) if the mixture is too dry in step 3.

Recipe Notes:

The original recipe called for sugar, but because it contains 3 cups of dried fruit, we find it plenty sweet enough without.

If you like your baked goods very sweet, you could try mixing in ¼ cup honey or maple syrup or sprinkling the top of the loaf with 1/4 cup coconut sugar before baking.

Peri's Recipe Reflections:

This Irish Tea Brack is a cross between a cake and a bread – what the English would call a tea loaf – and is made with just 5 simple wholefood ingredients.

Like most cakes popular in the Great Depression era, it contains no milk, butter or oil because these were either expensive, or very difficult to find.

Instead, it’s made from cold tea, which to a modern housewife, may sound strange, but you’d never know (even if you’re not a tea drinker).

What is surprising is how moist this loaf is, despite containing no oil or butter.

♥                                 ♥                                 ♥                                       ♥                                     ♥

I was introduced to this recipe by my dear friend Erin about 15 years ago.

Life looked different for both of us then – we had just 3 children, and Erin was single and working in an emotionally demanding fulltime job.

Despite her long hours, she and another dear friend would often drop by for a cuppa and offer to help. #blessthem

It was on one of these visits that she brought along this loaf, and boy, did that change my world (well, my afternoon tea world ? )

I couldn’t get over just how moreish it was, and how much fruit was crammed into each slice.

And when she scribbled the simple recipe for me on the back of an old envelope (from memory), I knew it was a keeper.

And all these years later, it’s still the most frequently baked good I make – for unexpected visitors, smoko for our shearers, church morning tea, new baby gift bundle …. for any reason. (And whenever there’s some cold tea left in the pot).

So, like Erin, I’m now sharing this recipe with you – especially as it’s one of the most requested recipes from Border Park visitors.

I’m certain you’ll love it too, so please let me know if you do bake it.

Peri x



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