Irish Barmbrack is a traditional fruit cake that was originally served on Halloween. The dried fruit is soaked in tea overnight for a really moist, delicious cake that’s delicious sliced and spread with butter.
I couldn’t let Halloween 2020 pass without sharing a couple of recipes with you! I’ve opted for a more traditional recipe this year – Irish Barmbrack.
I love a fruit cake, and this is a really good one. It’s incredibly moist and packed full of fruit. It couldn’t be easier to make either – you simply soak the dried fruit in cold tea and a nip of alcohol over night, (or skip the alcohol and add more tea) then all you need to do in the morning is stir in the rest of the ingredients.
more fruit cake recipes
If you love fruit cake, you might be interested in trying my recipes for Malt loaf, Mincemeat muffins, Amaretto Fruit Cake (very popular with my readers at Christmas time!), Mary Berry’s mincemeat loaf cake (ditto!), Easy fruit Bran Loaf and Simnel Cake.
what is barmbrack?
Barmbrack is an Anglicised spelling of Bairin Breac, which means “speckled loaf”. Although Barmbrack cake is enjoyed all year long in Ireland, it is commonly associated with Halloween. It is originally a yeasted fruit bread that had various items baked inside the loaf which signified different meanings for the lucky (or not so lucky) recipient. The objects included –
- A pea – which meant the recipient would not marry that year
- A stick – a foretelling of an unhappy marriage
- A rag – a sign of bad luck or poverty
- a coin – a sign of good fortune or an impending windfall
- a ring – the person would be married within the year
- Dried fruit. I used a mixture of sultanas, raisins and glace cherries.
- Strong, cold tea. Anything you have in your cupboard will be fine.
- One egg
- Sugar. You can use any type of sugar you have available. I like to use soft light or dark brown sugar in fruit cakes for extra richness.
- Self raising flour
- ground mixed spice
how long does irish barmbrack keep for?
Because of the alcohol, this Barmback will keep for several weeks in an airtight tin (wrapped in baking paper and a layer of tin foil), although I doubt it will last beyond Halloween!
can I make this barmbrack alcohol free?
Yes you can make this Barmbrack recipe alcohol free if you wish – simply add an extra 50ml of tea instead.
did you make this recipe?
I would love to hear what you thought of the recipe! Leave me a comment below and please rate the recipe by clicking on the stars in the recipe card.
Taken a photo of your Barmbrack? Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!
- 250g raisins
- 225g sultanas or currants
- 25g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and cut into quarters
- 300ml strong, cold tea
- 50ml Irish whisky (or any other alcohol of your choice - I sometimes use Green ginger wine if I don't have whisky)
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 200g caster or soft light brown sugar
- 220g self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 1 tablespoon orange marmalade (optional)
- Soak the dried fruit in the cold tea and whisky overnight.
- When you're ready to bake the Barmbrack, preheat the oven to 180C/160Fan/350F/gas mark 4. Grease and line and 900g (2lb) loaf tin. (My tin is 5x8 inches.)
- Stir the egg, sugar, flour and mixed spice into the fruit mixture until all the flour has disappeared and the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 80-90 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake emerges clean. If the top of the barmbrack looks like it is becoming too dark, cover with a piece of baking parchment.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack. While the cake is still warm, brush with marmalade if using. Leave the cake to go completely cold before slicing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 359Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 86gFiber: 3gSugar: 59gProtein: 5g
Calories and nutritional information are provided by a third party application and should be viewed as indicative figures only.