Home of Halloween – Barmbrack Recipe
Caution is required at this time of year when biting into a slice of warm barmbrack. This traditional Halloween bread/cake could contain any number of items, ready to tell the future of the person lucky (or unlucky) enough to find something in their slice. You may find: a ring (married in a year); a stick (a walking stick indicating future travels); a thimble (a spinster forever); a button (a bachelor forever); a coin (a lifetime of wealth); and a piece of cloth (a lifetime of poverty). Years ago, religious medals could also be found in bracks, predicting a life in the Holy Orders.
For those of you unfamiliar with barmbrack, this recipe is a winner.
For the fruit mix:
- 350g (1½ cups) sultanas
- 50ml (¼ cup) Bushmills whiskey
- Warm tea (enough to cover the sultanas)
- 1 lemon, juice and zested skin
For the dough:
- 450g (2 cups) strong bread flour
- A pinch of salt
- 15g (1tbsp) dried yeast
- 280ml (9.5fl oz) milk, at room temperature
- 50g (3½tbsp) butter, softened
- 50g (3½tbsp) sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
For the topping:
- 1tbsp butter
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- ½tsp ground mixed spice
- Soak the sultanas in the whiskey, warm tea and lemon juice for 30-45 minutes, then drain off the liquid.
- To make the dough: put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and bring together with a wooden spoon.
- Knead on a floured surface with your hands for 5 minutes.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave for about 1 hour, until the mixture has risen and fills the bowl.
- Knead the dough again ona floured surface, adding the soaked fruit until evenly spread throughout.
- Place in a 20-23cm buttered cake tin and cover with a damp tea towel.
- Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the mixture rises up to the top of the tin.
- Bake for 50 minutes in oven preheated to 200C.
- For the topping: cream the butter and spices together until soft.
- Remove the barmbrack from the oven. Immediately spread spiced butter on top. Leave to cool.