Irish Barmbrack Recipe
Irish barmbrack, a type of tea bread, is a customary treat in Ireland during the Halloween season. It is made by combining flour, brown sugar, spices like cinnamon and cloves, and dried fruits, including raisins and sultanas, which have been soaked overnight in hot black tea.
This soaking process serves the purpose of softening the fruit while also infusing the tea’s taste into the bread.
The bread is baked until it turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It is known for its soft and slightly dense texture with a gentle sweetness and warming spice notes.
Traditionally, it is enjoyed by slicing it and spreading butter on it while serving with a cup of tea.
Irish barmbrack holds significant cultural importance in Ireland
and has been a part of their culinary traditions for centuries.
Its roots can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. During this time, offerings of food were left out to satisfy the spirits, and barmbrack was one such offering.
The name “barmbrack” comes from the Irish term “bairín breac,” which means speckled loaf, and it refers to the visible dried fruit speckles in the bread. In the past, barmbrack was also used for fortune-telling, where various items like coins, rings, or pieces of cloth were baked into the bread.
Whoever received them in their slice was said to be blessed with wealth, marriage, or good fortune.
Today, barmbrack remains a popular and cherished food in Ireland, particularly during Halloween. Although it is no longer used for divination purposes, it still offers a comforting and delicious treat for sharing with friends and family.
To prepare the raisins and sultanas,
place them in a bowl and pour hot tea over it.
Cover the bowl and let it sit for at least 8 hours or overnight to plump up the dried fruits.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and butter a 22×12 cm (9×5 inch) loaf pan. You can use baking paper also.
Drain the fruit, but keep the soaking liquid, and set them aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, and baking powder, whisking well.
Add the egg and mix with a wooden spoon until crumbly.
Gradually add in half of the reserved tea and mix well.
Continue to add more tea a little at a time until the batter reaches a cake-like consistency, adding only as much as needed.
Stir in the plumped fruit and mix well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
After baking, cool the loaf for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Enjoy, Good Appetite!