Recipe For Making Irish Barmbrack Bread

How to make Irish Barmbrack Bread

Barmbrack is traditional Irish bread and it is possibly the only surviving example of the use of yeast in traditional cooking. It is also made using strong black tea instead of the usual liquids used in bread making.

Barmbrack is a light yeasty fruitcake that is always served sliced and buttered. It is typically eaten at Halloween in Ireland when a coin is baked inside it so that when the bread is sliced the person who receives the slice with the coin in it will have good fortune for the coming year.

Some may place Barmbrack as an Irish Dessert Recipe but it can be eaten any time of day and tastes great with a lovely warm cup of tea.

Ingredients for Irish Barmbrack

  • 450g/ 4 cups strong bread flour
  • 25g/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 50g/ ¼ cup caster, superfine sugar
  • 7.5 ml/ 1 ½ teaspoons easy blend yeast
  • 2.5 ml/ ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1.5 ml/ ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 175g/1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 175g/ 1 cup currants
  • 50g/ ¼ cup chopped mixed (candied) peel
  • 300ml/ 1 ¼ cup of warm strong tea

How to make Irish Barmbrack

Place the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in 5 ml/1 teaspoons of the sugar.

Then add the yeast, ginger and nutmeg mix well

Stir in the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and make a well in the centre.

Gradually work in enough of the warm tea to make a soft but not sticky dough.

Knead well until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

Knead on a lightly floured board for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place in an oiled bowl cover with Cling-film (plastic wrap)and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size
Knead again and then shape into a large round and place on a greased baking sheet.

Cover and leave in a warm place or 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Shape into a greased and lined 900g/ 2lb loaf tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 230°C/450°F gas mark 8 for 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F gas mark 6 for a further 20 minutes until well risen and golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Dissolve the remaining sugar in 15ml/ 1 tablespoon of hot water and brush the syrup over the loaf and return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Leave to cool then serve sliced with butter.

Last updated March 2, 2020.

About the Author

Róisín Anraí
Róisín is a cat lover who is also a freelance writer and regular contributor to our site.