Saturday, March 3, 2012

Irish Barm Brack Bread

Greetings everyone and welcome to March 2012! Spring is just around the corner and Saint Patrick's Day is fast approaching! Around this time of year I search around for some new recipe to try, or even several recipes that will 'Get My Irish Up'!

I will admit that I have no interest in cooking 'corned beef and cabbage' as presented over the years. How over played is that tune? This is a day for celebration and who really wants to celebrate with with boiled meat and soggy cabbage? No offense meant to those who like the 'traditional' way it is cooked here.

In trying to expand my playlist for for St. Patty's Day I am going to see how many new things I can try this year. It is during the search for new & exciting I found the following recipe, and I am pleased to share it with you now.

Barmbrack is a tea bread popular in Ireland, especially around Halloween. I am presenting here because it is a great bread for any time of year and is a much more welcomed addicting to a Saint Patrick's meal that soda bread. Being a sweet rather than savory bread it can be eaten with a meal or as dessert or breakfast bread. Once you try it you are going to want it all day.

Makes one 8-inch round loaf

16 oz Long Ireland IPA (India Pale Ale)
2 Cups Dried Fruit / small fruits - raisins, golden raisins, cranberry, etc

1 Cup Milk / lukewarm (110-115°F)
2 1/4 tsp Yeast
2 tsp Sugar

2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1 Egg / beaten
1/3 Cup Unsalted Butter / softened
1 tsp Salt

Place the IPA and dried fruit in a bowl and let soak overnight.
The next day when you start to gather your other ingredients drain the fruit and spread them out on paper towels until needed.
In a small bowl mix the yeast, warm milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar together and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and spices. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, butter and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet or a little more milk if it is too dry.
Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky. You can also use a mixer and dough hook, which is what I did, as I was lazy that morning. Setting 2 or 3 is fine, for 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the dried fruit a little at a time into the dough and knead until all the fruit has been incorporated.
Remove the dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch down to deflate. Knead lightly for 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and placed in a buttered 8-inch cake pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. If bread starts to brown too quickly tent with foil.
Remove to a rack and cool.

The entire time, from needing to baking the bread had a wonderful aroma. This is a very tasty loaf of bread, something you can enjoy any time of the day. Pop a slice in the toaster and spread with a little butter and you have a very yummy snack.

Just before baking, brush the top of the loaf with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of milk beaten together. This will give the loaf a dark shiny crust.
Many barmbrack recipes call for "mixed spice." This could be equal parts ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Ground allspice can also be used. I will try differing spices as I continue to experiment with this loaf.

Long Ireland IPA & Fruit

A Little Left Over For My Glass

Sugar, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg  & Bran

Drunken Fruit

After First Kneading

After Second Rise & Oven Ready
Baking Away

Time To Cool Down

Wonderful Aroma

Irish Barm Brack!

Also known as barm brack, barn brack or baírín breac.
At Halloween, barmbrack is used to tell fortunes for the coming year. A pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a coin and a ring are all baked inside the bread. The one who gets the pea will not marry. The one who gets the stick will have an unhappy marriage. The piece of cloth fortells poverty, while the coin indicates riches. And finally, the finder of the ring will marry within the year.

As Always, Thank You For Reading!


  1. Hi Joe, that bread sure does look good, I may have to give it a try! Don

  2. Greetings Don.
    Let me know how you like it if you give this bread a try. The aroma starts from when the fruit goes for a beer swim and last all the way through making toast.
    It is a great bread!