Irish Barmbrack


Barmbrack is a bread that I usually associate with this time of year, its a traditional Irish yeasted fruit bread that is usually served at Halloween, after a night in the cold trick or treating! Traditionally items such as a ring, a pea, a thimble and a coin can be found mixed inside, whichever you get in your slice determines your fortune for the year! (As a child I did get the coin….. still waiting for the cash to roll in!)

The fruit in this bread is soaked overnight in cold tea, this makes the fruit plump up and be nice and juicy. The tea I have chosen is Belfast Brew by Suki Tea, one of my favourite everyday teas, it keeps with the Irish theme. I also added a twist to my cold tea; a dash of Bushmills Honey Whiskey Liqueur – continuing the Irish Theme, and also very tasty in a glass!

Bushmills HoneyBelfast Brew

This recipe makes one generous round barmbrack and will feed maybe about 8 – 10 people, depending on how hungry they all are!!

Irish Barmbrack (serves 8 – 10)
220g dried mixed fruit & peel (I used a mix of sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed peel)
2 cups strong black tea
A good swig of whiskey
60ml  warm milk
1 sachet of active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
300g plain flour
50g brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground mixed spice
1 large free-range egg, beaten
75g unsalted butter, softened


  • Soak the dried fruit in the tea and whiskey. Leave overnight or as long as possible
  • Combine the some of warm milk, yeast and 2 tsp. sugar. Stir and leave to the side for at least 5 minutes to activate the yeast, it will go all bubbly and frothy
  • In a bowl, sift in the flour then stir in the sugar and spices.
  • To the remaining mail add the softened butter and stir until melted in and then mix into the flour
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg and yeast mixture. Bring the dough together firstly with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, to form a dough (add more milk if too dry or more flour if too wet.)
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured board and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Drain the fruit and knead it into the dough, adding a small bit at a time, until all the fruit has been incorporated.

Fruit ready to be mixed into the doughJuicy whiskey and tea infused fruit

  • Roughly shape the dough in to a ball and add to a large bowl, cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to sit somewhere warm  for about 2 hours or until double the size
  • Then transfer back to a floured surface and punch the dough to deflate it. Knead it for another couple of minutes then shape it into a round bannock shape and place on a lightly greased baking tray
  • Cover with cling film or a tea towel again and leave in a warm place for a further 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c /Fan 160c
  • Bake the barmbrack for approx 45 minutes or until hollow when ‘knocked’ on the bottom
  • Once baked remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool
  • Mix 1 1/2 tbsp. of sugar with 2 tbsp. of boiling water until the sugar is dissolved
  • While the barmbrack is still hot brush the top of it with the glaze
  • Once cool slice up and butter and serve with a nice warm cup of tea or a calorific hot chocolate!

Good for after a bit of trick or treating!