Irish Halloween Bread – Barm Brack

Filed in Real Food by on October 30, 2013 0 Comments

baked barm brack

Barm Brack is a fruit-full Irish bread traditionally used to tell fortunes at Halloween. Different items are baked into the bread; the person who gets the pea will not marry, the

person who gets

the stick will have an unhappy marriage, the person who gets a piece of cloth will live a life of poverty, the person who gets a coin will have a future of riches, while the person who gets the ring will marry within the next year.

Sounds like a fun old tradition, that is if you are lucky enough to get the coin or possibly the ring. The other options being too depressing for me, I just added fruit to my version!

Some barm brack recipes use baking soda as a leavening agent, but since the word barm is supposedly Gaelic for yeast, this bread lends itself nicely to sourdough. Caution – there is a lot of fruit in this bread. So while the end result is a deliciously sweet-tart tea bread, you may have a little bit of trouble kneading all the raisins into the dough.

Recipe:

  • 2 cups strong black tea
  • 2 cups dried fruit (I used a combination of raisins and currents)
  • 2 cups sourdough starter (find out how to make your own starter here)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk

Place the tea and the fruit in a bowl and let soak overnight. Drain.

In a large bowl, or the bowl to a stand mixer, combine all remaining ingredients. Stir to bring the dough together and knead until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky.

Knead the fruit into the dough. This process may be easier if you lightly sprinkle the fruit with flour before kneading. I had to do this step by hand, even though I was using a stand mixer.

Place the dough in a greased, 8 inch baking dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place 2 – 4 hours. Since there is so much fruit, the dough will not rise as much as a “fruit-less” dough would rise.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until the top is nicely browned (internal temperature about 205 degrees). Cool on a rack.

Like many sourdough breads, barm brack is even better the next day. Serve thin slices toasted with butter and marmalade, along with a cup of Irish Breakfast tea. Happy Halloween!

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About the Author ()

Renee Pottle, an freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at SeedToPantry.com. Find her professional food writing info at PenandProvisions.com.

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