Saturday, October 24, 2015

Barmbrack - Irish Halloween Fruit Bread - We Knead to bake -32

Barmbrack or Báirín Breac which means Speckled Bread, is an Irish fruit added bread. Interestingly the candied, dry fruits are soaked in hot tea. this imparts the flavour to the bread. This is October, when people celebrate Halloween, this bread was chosen by Aparna, so we, the members of the We Knead to Bake group can try to bake in our kitchens.
The raisins in the bread give it the speckled look and “báirín”is for loaf in Irish and “breac” means speckled. It is shaped either as loaf or roll bun, cut in thick slices and eaten with rather a generous lather of butter.
Aparna shares the following information:
The origin of Halloween goes back to the Celtic festival of "Samhain" which is derived from Old Irish and supposedly roughly translates to "Summer's End." The Barmbrack is very much a part of a traditional Irish Halloween custom that involved baking various objects or “fortunes” into the fruit bread. When the bread was cut and served, if you found one of the objects in your portion then that would tell your fortune.
There are yeasted versions of this recipe as well those that use baking powder to leaven it.  We are baking the yeasted barmbrack this month. The given recipe will make two loaves, i had to halve that to bake just one for the two of us.

Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) – Irish Halloween Fruit Bread/ Cake

Makes 2 loaves 8"X5"
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sultanas
1/8 chopped dried apricots
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1&1/2 cup hot, strong black tea to soak the above fruits
3&1/2 - 4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspon salt
30 grams unsalted butter softened, at room temperature
1 lightly beaten egg (I topped the liquid to substitute)
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm milk for making 1 cup of milk+tea (drained after soaking process is complete)
(The milk should be warm enough that the tea is warm to help the yeast to proof)
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed in 1 tablespoon hot water for the glaze.

Place the dried fruits in a bowl. 
Make strong black tea and pout on the fruits while hot.
Let them stay soaked overnight or if that is not possible, for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours.
Drain the liquid tea after the fruits have swollen. Reserve the drained liquid.

kneading the dough can be done either by hand or by machine. 
Place the flour,instant yeast,sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl, or in that of the machine.
Whisk them to mix well.
Add the egg if you are using and the butter. Mix them well.
Now pour the reserved liquid into a 1 cup measure, top it with hot milk to make 1 cup tea. Let this be just as warm to proof the yeast in the flour mix. 
I added extra milk to this to substitute for the egg (it could have done without also, this made the dough a bit loose that needed more kneading and used up all the given measure of flour).
Knead to a dough that is smooth and elastic and is just about sticky to touch.
Turn the dough on to a counter, make a rough rectangle and spread the swollen fruits over the surface.
Fold the dough in half once and fold that again in half. Knead gently to incorporate the fruits evenly.
Roll the dough in a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat all over with oil.
Cover and keep it away to double in volume for 1&1/2 to 2 hours.

Gently knead the risen dough, divide in two portions. Shape them to fit in two 8"X5" loaf tin, or in rounded buns.
Cover and allow them to rise for another 45 minutes. They would puff up and rise slightly.
Bake them in a pre-heated 180 degrees C/350 degrees F oven for 35 - 45 minutes.
If you are giving it the sugar glaze, prepare the glace by mixing sugar and warm water. Just befor five minutes to complete baking time, take the bread out, give it the glaze and put it back in the oven to complete baking.
The tops should be golden brown and the bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Cool them on wire racks.
Cut thick slices and serve with butter.
Aparna's post here has links to posts by other members. Do check them out too.


  1. Looks absolutely delicious. Somehow I always thought Irish bread had soda and not yeast. I did make a teacake once with similar ingredients.

  2. Looks delicious Lataji! ! Love ur tea pot! !😊

  3. love the teapot and the equally delicious loaf. Have to post mine. Hubby loved it. Its such a nice fruity and spicy loaf.

  4. It looks lovely and yummy with all those spices


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