Tea Brack with Tea Poached Pears, Crumbled Honeycomb and Caramelized Walnuts, served with clotted cream.

Niamh Mannion's signature dish from Heat 1 of MasterChef 2014


  • tea brack:
  • 180 ml strong black tea, made with three barry’s gold blend tea bags
  • 150 g sultanas
  • 100 g golden sultanas
  • 150 g raisins
  • 50 g currants
  • 175 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 25 g butter, melted
  • 275 g plain flour
  • 0.50 tsp bread soda
  • tea poached pears:
  • 1 l strong tea made with 5 barry’s gold blend tea bags
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 4 slightly under-ripe conference pears
  • 50 g golden sultanas
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • peeled rind of half a lemon (in large strips)
  • peeled rind of 1 orange (in large strips)
  • honeycomb:
  • 1 tblsp oil to oil baking tray
  • 80 g butter
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 80 g golden syrup
  • 2 level tsp bread soda
  • caramelized walnuts:
  • 175 g walnuts, whole and shelled
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • large pinch of fine sea salt
  • to serve:
  • 200 g clotted cream


  1. Firstly, make up 1 litre of strong tea using 5 tea-bags. Let infuse for about three minutes and then set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180C so that it will be hot enough when you put the mini-bracks into the oven.
  3. Peel pears, leaving stalk intact. Using a melon baller or a small teaspoon, hollow out the centre from the bottom of the pear to remove the woody core.
  4. Put warm tea mixture into medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Split the vanilla pod and add to the syrup along with star anise. Add the peeled rind of the orange and lemon.
  5. Stand the pears in the mixture and bring the tea mixture to a gentle simmer.
  6. Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes until the pear is tender. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon to a dish to cool.
  7. Meanwhile… whilst the pears are gently simmering…
  8. Make up another 180ml strong tea using boiling water and three tea-bags. Let infuse for about three minutes. Remove tea-bags and set tea aside for the moment.
  9. Butter and line 8 mini-cake rings (2½ ” wide).
  10. Put the tea and dried fruit into a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Boil for one minute and then set aside to cool slightly. When slightly cooled add soft brown sugar and set aside.
  11. Stir the egg and melted butter into the cooled fruit mixture.
  12. Sieve the plain flour and bread soda together and fold into the egg and fruit mixture.
  13. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  14. Allow cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning out. Cool on a wire rack.
  15. Separately:
  16. Turn up the heat under the tea mixture which the pears were poached in, add the golden sultanas to this mixture in the pan. Reduce until a light syrup consistency has been reached. Keep an eye on the syrup, whilst you make the honeycomb. Once the desired consistency has been reached, discard the star anise, vanilla pods and peels. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  17. Whilst the brack is baking in the oven and the pears are poaching, you can make the honeycomb.
  18. Grease a 20cm square baking tin with a little vegetable oil.
  19. Gently heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large heavy-based pan until the sugar has dissolved.
  20. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly, without stirring. Keep boiling until the mixture goes a golden-brown colour (this will take approximately 5 minutes).
  21. Add the bread soda and stir the mixture for a few seconds. The mixture will fizz and expand quite dramatically. Tip the honeycomb into the oiled baking tin and leave until cold and set.
  22. Next… caramelize the walnuts.
  23. Lay the walnuts out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for approximately 5 minutes in the oven which the bracks are baking in (it is ok to open the door of the oven briefly to insert the tray and to remove it) until nicely toasted, but watch them carefully because they can burn very easily. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  24. Pour sugar into a thick based, medium saucepan. Heat sugar over a medium heat until all the sugar has melted. Continue heating, stirring until the sugar begins to caramelize and turn a deep amber colour. As soon as you have reached this stage, throw in the walnuts and quickly stir to ensure that the nuts are coated in the caramel.
  25. Quickly pour the coated nuts onto a silicon mat lined baking sheet. Use two forks to separate the nuts out. Sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.
  26. To finish
  27. Place a mini tea brack on each plate and soak with a little of the tea syrup mixture from poaching the pears. Top with a quenelle of clotted cream which you can form by using two teaspoons. Place a tea poached pear on the plate and spoon a little more of the syrup over the pear until it glistens. Do not swamp the plate with syrup.
  28. Crumble up some of the honeycomb and scatter around the pear and tea brack. Place a few tea poached sultanas on the plate along with three or four caramelized walnuts.
  29. Serve.

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