Barmbrack (also known as Barnbrack) is an Irish Halloween tradition. It’s a rich fruit cake, made with dried fruits that are steeped in tea and sometimes a little whiskey too. Even though I wasn’t a fan of this fruit cake as a kid, I loved when we had barmbrack at Halloween. The reason I liked the cake so much was because it contained hidden fortune telling treasures. There were rings, coins, thimbles all kinds of things concealed within the cake. It kind of seems like a choking hazard now when I think about it! I think nowadays they wrap the gifts up in bright paper. The little trinkets all symbolized something – if you got the ring, you would get married, if you got the coin, you would get rich and if you got the thimble you would be single forever. As a little kid, this was all kinds of fun getting these prizes, but we never cared much for the actual cake. As an adult though, I’ve grown to love fruit cakes, but don’t bother adding trinkets anymore.
For this recipe, I went for a more adventurous selection of fruits than the traditional ones used in a barmbrack. This cake contains a colorful mix of dried cherries, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, golden raisins and dates. It’s a really simple cake to make, and as it’s very moist, it keeps fresh for well over a week. This barmbrack is best served with lots of salty butter and a nice, strong cup of tea on the side.
- 450g of dried fruits – I used the following combination
- 25g of dried blueberries
- 75g of dried cherries
- 100g of golden raisins
- 100g of dried cranberries
- 100g of apricots – chopped
- 50g of chopped dates
- 300ml of strong brewed tea, cooled
- 50mls of whiskey
- 1 egg, beaten
- 200g of sugar
- 210g of all-purpose flour
- 7g of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spice / pumpkin spice
- Soak the fruit overnight or for at least a few hours in the cold tea and whiskey.
- Once the fruit is soaked, preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.
- Line a rectangular loaf tin (5 x 8 inches) with parchment paper
- Mix the beaten egg, flour, sugar and mixed spice together with a spoon until well combined.
- Add the soaked fruit and any liquid that remains.
- Stir until all the fruit is well mixed in.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the lined loaf tin and put in the oven for one hour and 30 minutes. You may need to tent some tinfoil over the cake during the latter half of cooking to prevent too much browning on top.
- Once cooked, take out of the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Serve sliced with butter, preferably Kerrygold.