A modern and simplified twist on the traditional Irish Halloween and New Year’s loaf, made with deep spices and infused fruit, this bake is steeped in Gaelic legend (along with Irish Whiskey and a bit of fun). But you will probably just slice it, smear it with loads of good salted butter and enjoy. Or maybe warm it and serve with a dollop of thick whipped cream and a large Baileys.
Barmbrack or Brack as its commonly known, literally translates as “speckled loaf” and is a cross between a bread and a teacake. Originally served in rounds like a scone, tokens and trinkets would be inserted to predict your fortune based on which one you got. If you got a ring you would marry that year, but the pea meant you would not. Find a matchstick and you would have an unhappy year in your marriage with lots of arguments, a piece of cloth (rag) and you would be poor, but the silver sixpence was a sign of coming fortune. Finally, the medallion of the Virgin Mary and you your join the church. So, we think it’s probably best to just include the ring and maybe the coin, in the spirit of optimism.
The second legend for Barmbrack relates to New Years Eve, when the rounds would be thrown at the back doors of houses to ward of poverty in the coming year. An interesting way to bring in the New Year, and probably one you need to consult with your neighbours on first to avoid some awkward questions.
Our Brack is a little bit more modern and much simplified. You can make it all in the same day with no need to soak the fruit, prep takes less than 30 minutes and its just 1 hour to bake. We have also used more spice and some mixed peel to add a twist, and of course a little more Whiskey too.
Happy Halloween and New Year!
Ingredients – Makes 1 x 2lb loaf
75g cut mixed peel
75ml Irish Whiskey
250ml cold tea
225g self raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
75g caster sugar
50g soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 level tsp ground allspice
1 level tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees fan, then grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (these are approx. 21cm long and 7cm tall if yours isn’t marked).
2. Place the fruit in a microwaveable lidded container and add the cold tea and 50ml of the whiskey, put the lid on and give it a good shake to mix. Lift the lid slightly at one order and microwave on full power for 5 minutes, giving an extra shake about halfway through. Leave the lid on to cool a little.
3. Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor and mix for 1 minute with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment.
4. Add the egg, remaining 25ml of whiskey, and the liquid from the fruit and mix for a couple of minutes to a smooth batter.
5. Now mix in the fruit until its evenly distributed in the batter, and transfer to your prepared tin.
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes, until risen. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy! You can eat it the day you make it, or leave it for up to 2 days wrapped in cling film.