Traditional Irish Barmbrack

Irish Barmbrack Recipe

 siims/Getty Images

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

Each country in the British Isles has its own fruitcake, whether for celebrations or for tea time. In Ireland, the fruitcake of choice is called Barmbrack (from its Gaelic name báirín breac, or ‘speckled loaf,’ referring to the speckles of fruit in the cake).

This lovely cake is traditionally eaten at Halloween and as part of St Patrick's Day celebrations. At Halloween, the custom is to bake a small object, like a ring, into the cake as a kind of fortune-teller. Finding the ring delights the unmarried as it portends they will be the next to walk down the aisle. 

Brack is also eaten year-round as part of tea time, when it is served with salty Irish butter. Brew some tea and get ready for a real Irish treat!

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 on the side.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Place 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, then 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, and 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. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

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

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

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  15. The bread is lovely to eat straight away, but it can be stored in a cake tin, wrapped with greaseproof paper. You can slice it, toast it, and add a generous amount of butter on top.

    Irish Barmbrack Recipe
     The Spruce
  16. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea!

Recipe Tags: