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Fruit filled Barmbrack Irish Halloween Bread
Enjoy this delicious traditional Irish recipe typically served around Halloween.
Barm Brack (also known as barmbrack or bairín breac) is a fruit filled yeasted dough a little sweeter than sandwich bread, but not rich like cake. Many Irish folks bake items into the bread as a game of fortune-telling. Sometimes there’s a ring indicating an impending marriage or a coin foretelling good fortune, luck or riches.
Overview of ingredients for Barm Brack:
- bread flour
- ground allspice
- active dry yeast
- granulated or white sugar
- whole milk
- Irish whiskey or black tea for soaking the raisins
- vegetable oil for greasing the bowl and pan
- unsalted butter
- a mixture of golden raisins, raisins and dried currants
- coarse sugar for topping
Barm Brack is simple yeast bread loaded with golden raisins, dried currents and raisins.
Some Barm Brack recipes call for the fruit to be soaked in black tea, thus the idea that it’s a tea bread. I usually skip the tea and soak the fruit in Irish Whiskey to add a little zing. It’s a great way to add a little spirit and flavor to this recipe!
Feel free to soak the fruit in water, tea or even rum. It’s all good!
Overview: how to make Barmbrack
Make the dough:
First combine the fruit in a small bowl and cover with whisky and water. Set aside the fruit to soak overnight or for at least an hour. When ready to make the dough, drain the fruit reserving the liquid. You’ll need it to add to the bread.
Next sift together the flour, allspice and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and granulated sugar. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the warm milk and reserved whiskey mixture. Knead using the dough hook until it pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Add the dried fruit and form the loaf:
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead. Add the butter and raisins and work the dough until incorporated. Return the dough to the oiled bowl and rise again for 30 minutes.
Gather the dough into a neat circle and place in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise again until for 60 minutes.
Bake the Barm Brack:
Brush the top of the loaf with milk then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until cooked through. Cool, slice and enjoy!
What kind of pan should you use to bake Barmbrack?
Bake Barm Brack in a skillet, deep dish cake pan or a square baker. We usually bake ours in a 9-inch springform pan which works beautifully!
You can also divide the dough in half and bake in two loaf pans. Reduce the baking time to about 30 minutes.
This Barm Brack bread recipe yields of loaf with terrific texture and amazing flavor. The crust is nothing short of fantastic and the plump juicy fruits are so good. This is one terrific loaf!
Once your family gets a whiff of the incredible aroma lofting from the kitchen, they’ll come running to snag a slice or two. It’s hard to wait until the loaf cools a bit before slicing, but slightly warm is okay.
We love Irish recipes!
I’m a bit of a sucker for all things Irish. Perhaps it’s because of my Scottish/Irish lineage or maybe I just love their recipes and style.
Sometimes we incorporate Bailey’s Irish Cream in desserts whether or not it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Check out Bailey’s Irish Cream Pie, Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Truffles, and our famously terrific Bourbon Balls with Jameson.
How to serve Barm Brack
Serve a thick hearty slice of Barm Brack with afternoon tea. Smear a little sweet creamy butter on top and enjoy!
You can also toast leftover bread for breakfast which is also great with a little sweet butter. This bread is so good and flavorful there’s no need for lots of add-ons. However, it’s hard to resist smearing on a little Irish butter.
Barm Brack is the recipe to make every year!
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- 4 ¾ cups bread flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ cup milk, heated to 95-100 degrees on an instant read thermometer
- ⅓ cup water, plus extra as needed
- ⅓ cup Irish Whiskey, such as Bushmills or Jameson or black tea
- vegetable oil, for oiling the bowl and pan
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups golden raisins, raisins and dried currants mixed
- 1 tablespoon milk, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for garnish
- Place the raisins, currants and golden raisins in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the whiskey and ⅓ cup water. Soak the fruit for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- When ready to start the bread, drain the raisins reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the soaking liquid to measure ⅔ cup. Set the fruit and liquid aside.
- Sift the flour, allspice and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir in the yeast and granulated sugar. Turn the stand mixer on the lowest setting and add the warmed milk, water and whiskey mixture. Mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky but soft.
- Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly for one minute. Add the butter and soaked fruit and work them in until completely incorporated. Return the dough to the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the bread to rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Oil or grease a 9-inch springform or deep dish cake pan. Form the dough into a neat circle and press into the prepared pan. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place until it has risen again, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle with coarse or turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes then cover with foil. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a rack and cool.
- Serve with butter.
- Store lightly covered at room temperature.
- Bread can also be toasted with great results.