Some people know my Dad as Dr. Glass, the Neurosurgeon. Some people know my Dad as Dr. Glass, the baker. Some people know him as “Dad”. I’m fortunate enough to call him all three. There are many things in my short life I wish I could understand; why do people feel the things they feel, how the human race has come this far based on the stupidity around us, and how Kanye decided, by himself, he was God’s gift to the world. My dad has seen me change growing up and experienced most if not all (and maybe even more) of the angst and issues that parents face with their children. I have come to realize that he and I are very similar and have come to many the same conclusions, feelings, tastes, mannerisms and even facial expressions which have resulted in the same Worry Lines and Glabellar Lines (the horizontal lines on your forehead and the vertical lines between your eyebrows). One of the few things we do not have in common is cooking and baking. I like to cook and he likes to bake. We both love it, we both do it with passion and we both are persistent with it even when we fail and the whole family tells us it was delicious anyways. Food to us, is like art. For me, the art is like a painting in that the artist knows a bunch of concepts and things that can be done but there is no one direction and you can do whatever you want. For my dad, who is an accomplished surgeon, a beloved father and someone who’s version of a relaxing Sunday is waking up early to work out than break out an Applied Mathematics textbook and do math problems (like… for fun…) But he sees the brilliance in a defined formula. I am the painting, he is the formula, it’s who we are. With this understanding it makes sense why he loves to bake and I love to cook but like any good mathematician will do, you try and find your limits.
My dad tweaked the formula for an Irish Tea Brack and the result was both delicious and beautiful. The recipe traditionally requires Irish-Style Wholemeal flour but he used Whole Wheat flour. The result was enlightening. The recipe is as follows:
- 1 cup brewed hot tea; Irish breakfast tea is a good choice
- 1 cup raisins, packed
- 1/2 cup currants, packed
- 1 cup pitted prunes, snipped into small pieces
- 1 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 cups King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tbls. Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 tbls coarse sparkling white sugar
- Pour the hot tea over the dried fruits in a medium-sized bowl. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 2″ round cake pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the dried fruit, and any remaining liquid. Stir till thoroughly combined; the batter will be thick and stiff.
- Add the egg, mixing till thoroughly combined.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the coarse sparkling sugar.
- Bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes, till a cake tester inserted in the center comes out moist, but without clinging crumbs.
- Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Yield: one 8″ round loaf and a good smelling kitchen
The cake took over an hour and was probably the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen directly out of the oven. Fast forward 4 hours later when I could finally try it and I couldn’t even say anything in response. I sat for 2 minutes chewing with a smile, not because it was chewy but because I could just slow down and enjoy every little bit of it. This cake came together like an orchestra during their warmup; what was an odd cacophony of senses has yielded an aria of flavors and texture that I have never had before even though I had no reason to believe they wouldn’t or shouldn’t be together. I say this because the cake is so simple; tea, dried fruit, cake batter. Its done after the baking process, no icing or decorating, it’s just done. Therein lies the simplicity of this cake. But at the same time, he deviated from the original formula. I’m that deviation almost all the time because I am always striving to do everything my way no matter what people tell me (and often against better judgement) because if I am to make a mistake, I should be the one to make it so I can learn from it, like my frosted hair in middle school. This cake is an Irish cake that required Irish flour yet this cake had none of it. Arguably what makes this cake iconic is the flour and my dad decided this formula didn’t need it. The deviation is exactly what I would do and at the same time, I doubt anybody would recognize the difference between this cake and one of the original recipe. I guess I know where my desire to do it differently comes from. Most importantly, this cake was fucking amazing. I implore you to try it, and don’t be afraid to do it differently.
Food Porn, Bruh