Real Traditional Irish Barmbrack Recipe

Irish Barmbrack Recipe

  The Spruce

Ratings (34)
  • Total: 3 hrs
  • Prep: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 Loaves (12 Servings)

Every country in the British Isles has its own fruitcake, whether for celebrations or for tea time treats. In Ireland, the fruitcake of choice is a Barmbrack. This lovely moreish cake is also known as Barm Brack or sometimes, simply as Brack. Everyone knows what it means, as it is one of their most famous bakery products. The Gaelic name is báirín breac, or ‘speckled loaf,’ referring to the speckles of fruit in the cake.

Traditionally, Brack is eaten at Halloween and as part of your St Patrick's Day celebrations. At Halloween, custom has it to bake small objects into the cake, acting as a kind of fortune telling. Nowadays, more often than not, it will be a ring. Tthe finding of which delights the unmarried as it purports they will be the next to walk down the aisle. 

Brack is also eaten year-round simply as a delicious treat at tea time when it is served with lovely, salty Irish butter.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water​ (lukewarm)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 5 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup ​mixed candied peel
  • 1 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs (beaten)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Place the yeast in the lukewarm water, add the teaspoon of sugar, stir and leave to one side.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Put the flour into a large roomy baking bowl and add the butter and salt. 

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour to form sand-like crumbs. Work quickly to prevent the butter becoming too warm.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Add the peel, raisins, and the remainder of the sugar to the flour mixture and stir.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the beaten eggs and the yeast mixture.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Work the mixture together to form a soft dough.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
    The Spruce 
  8. Knead the dough on a floured worktop for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover with a clean tea cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size - about 1 hour.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Return the mixture to the worktop and divide in two. Knead each half for another few minutes then form into two rounds, each approximately 7 inches in diameter.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  11. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise for another hour.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  12. Heat the oven to 400 F/ /200 C/Gas 6.

  13. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  14. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  15. The cake is lovely to eat straight away, but it can be stored in a cake tin, wrapped with a little greaseproof paper if needed.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce

    Kitchen Note

  16. Should there be any cake after a few days, it toasts well, but it is doubtful there will be.