Irish Barmbrack Recipe for Halloween

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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.

Quick notes on the Irish Barmbrack

1. According to the tradition says the 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;
2. Being similar to an Italian panettone means it tends to dry out quickly so it’s better to always wrap it in oiled paper or store in a sealed container;
3. f 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 int the pan).

Ingredients for a20x16cm 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: almost 4 hours

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Categories: Christmas recipes, International Recipes, Seasonal recipes
Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina


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