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Irish Barmbrack Recipe for Halloween

Baking an Irish Barmbrack has become a tradition since when I moved to Ireland. The Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake baked for Halloween.

In Gaelic, it’s known as báirín breac, or ‘speckled loaf’. Traditionally, a ring, a penny, a pea, or a small piece of clothing was baked into the cake and each item had a special significance for the person who discovered it in their slice of cake. Nowadays it’s usually just a ring that’s added to the batter.

The recipe for a perfect Barmbrack is like the traditional Italian recipes: every Irish family has its own and it’s quite hard to find the perfect one.

I’ve been using the following recipes for years now and it partially comes from a friend of mine from the Kerry region and partially from my experience while baking: the result is a soft and rich dough you can really have for breakfast or as a snack buttered and, eventually, toasted as well.

Ingredients for a 20 x 16 cm Barmbrack

  • 225 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 375 grams of candied fruits and raisins
  • 300 ml of iced tea
  • 125 grams of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A generous handful of mixed spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves)


  1. Soak the raisins and the candied fruits in tea for at least a couple of hours. After this period of time, in the same bowl pour flour, sugar, the lightly beaten egg, the spices and the baking powder stirring well in order to get a creamy and soft dough.
  2. Transfer the dough into a greased baking loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour at 170°C.
  3. Allow the Barmbrack to cool then serve with a nob of butter or some honey.


Preparation time: 2 hours

Cooking time: 2.8 hours

Total time: 4.8 hours

Irish Barmbrack Recipe: Tips and Advice

  • It’s been said that he Barmbrack has to be made 2 days in advance and wrapped in oiled paper before being cut but if it is prepared the same day and you let it cool it is great;
  • Being similar to an Italian panettone it means that this cake tends to dry out quickly so it’s better to always wrap it in oiled paper or store in a sealed container;
  • If you want to add an item inside the Barmbrack, just make sure not to choose a small one neither a gigantic one and add it to the dough once it’s been already made and before transferring it into the pan);
  • You can freeze your Barmbrack as a whole or in batches to eat it all year round. It’s perfect at Christmas time because it’s very similar to the Irish Christmas Cake;
  • You can soak the raisins in Irish whiskey; the cake becomes somehow stingy, but it’s tastier and richer (not suitable for the kids!).

What you need to make the Halloween Irish Cake:

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About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska works as SEO Manager and Localization Project Manager She's an accredited journalist, a member of the British Guild of Travel Writer, and a certified sommelier. She's the co-owner of TheFoodellers and a bunch of other websites.
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