Traditional Irish Barmbrack

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Many country in the British Isles has its own fruitcake, each slightly different to the next. In Ireland, the fruitcake of choice is called Barmbrack (from its Gaelic name báirín breac)

This lovely cake is traditionally eaten at Halloween  celebrations. At Halloween, the custom is to bake a small object, like a ring, into the cake as a kind of fortune-teller. If an unmarried person finds the ring they are likely to be married soon.

Tea is a traditional ingredient in barmbrack but we chose to do a recipe without tea. Next time we will try a version that includes tea.


  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 200ml water​ (lukewarm)
  • 50g sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 600g  plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 20g ​mixed candied peel
  • 200g raisins
  • 2 eggs  (beaten)
  • Place the yeast in the lukewarm water, then add the teaspoon of sugar, stir, and leave on the side
  • Place the flour into a large bowl, then add the butter and salt
  • Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour to form crumbs. You need to do this as quickly as possible to save the butter getting too warm
  • Once combined add the peel, raisins, and the remainder of the sugar to the flour mixture and stir
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then add the beaten eggs and the yeast mixture . Mix until it forms a soft dough
  • Knead the dough on a floured worktop for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable
  • Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This should take between 45-60 minutes
  • Once risen turn out onto the worktop and divide in two. Knead each half for another few minutes, and then form into two  rounds, around 7 inches in diameter
  • Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise for another hour. After about 45 minutes pre heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400 f 200 c
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack

This is fantastic warm or cold, we found it was really nice toasted and covered in butter.

PLEASE NOTE: This makes two decent sized loaves and next time I would split the recipe in half, unless you have a large family to eat it all!

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