Happy Halloween! Well, it's not really Halloween in our house unless there is barmbrack, we like the tea free brack for Halloween because that's what I had growing up. You will see other tea bracks claiming to be barmbrack but don't believe them they are tea cakes and we have those all year round 😉 We're having a little Halloween party this evening to celebrate the end of the light season and the beginning of the dark season, so pumpkins have been carved, the brack is made, there will be trick or treating and snap apple or apple bobbing as they say nowadays!
I try to keep as many of the Halloween traditions I grew up with going, for my girl, this is the first year I've made my own barmbrack though, I have bought some in the past and the disappointment when a ring was not found is not worth repeating so I have made my own to avoid that happening again. So I've included a ring wrapped in parchment paper, traditionally Halloween barmbracks had various items added to the brack before baking. A ring denoted that you would be wed within the year, a dried pea meant you would not be married or you would be a spinster, a small piece of stick predicted an unhappy marriage, a small piece of cloth foretold poverty and a small silver coin predicted wealth. Modern-day Halloween bracks usually only have the ring included, I guess for safety reasons and maybe to avoid dentistry bills and unhappy kids who don't get the ring 😉
This barmbrack will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container, after the first day though it's really great toasted and served with some lovely creamy Irish butter. I hope you have a spooktacular evening, stay safe agus Oíche shamhna shona daoibh
- 250 ml milk
- 75 g butter + extra for greasing
- 7 g or 1 sachet dried yeast
- 75 g golden castor sugar
- 450 g plain (all purpose) flour
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large free range egg , beaten
- 250 g mixed fruit
- 1 brass ring
- A small square of grease proof paper
- Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C ( I use a fan assisted electric oven please adjust according to the oven you are using)
- Warm the milk over a low heat, add the butter and let it melt in the milk.
- Sift the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- In a glass jug add the yeast and one tablespoon of sugar.
- When the butter has melted into the milk pour half the liquid into the yeast and sugar, stir and leave to bubble, about 20 minutes.
- Now pour the yeast mixture into the well, add the rest of the milk and butter mixture then sprinkle a little flour over the liquid. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in a warm place until the liquid starts to bubble up, about 30 minutes.
- Add the beaten egg then bring the flour and liquid together using your hand. You should have a wettish dough.
- Scoop the dough out onto a floured board, sprinkle over the rest of the sugar and the fruit. Knead the sugar and fruit into the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes then place into a large greased bowl.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.
- Wrap the ring, if using, in the paper.
- Scoop the dough out onto a floured board again, add the ring and knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Place the dough into a greased 1lb loaf tin and place on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes, check with a metal skewer, when the skewer comes out clean it is done. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin then remove it and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Cut into slices and serve with a good helping of Irish butter.