Barmbrack

This traditional Irish Barmbrack is destined to become a family favorite. Sliced, toasted and buttered, it is absolute heaven!
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Barmbrack

Serves: 16 Time: 01:10 Skill:

On All Hallows’ Eve, the wafting smell of freshly baked barmbrack (báirín breac in Irish) fills homes all over Ireland. A quick and easy Halloween treat to prepare (especially as far as bread is concerned), this particular loaf is traditionally filled with raisins and sultanas – and best enjoyed with a large slathering of butter and a cuppa. Traditionally, various objects are baked into the loaf – think anything from a piece of cloth to a silver coin. Each object carries a different meaning for the year ahead. Some are good, some not so good so choose your slice carefully!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup raisins or sultanas
  • 1 cup strong black tea (cold) (optional: add a splash of Irish whiskey or brandy.)
  • 2 teaspoons (7g) active dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 3 1/2 cups (450g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar (to make your own place granulated white sugar in a blender and pulse until fine but not powder)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • zest of one lemon

Instructions

  • Place the currants and raisins in a bowl and pour over the cold tea (or water).  Let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain and reserve the liquid for later.
  • Stir the yeast and teaspoon of sugar in the lukewarm milk.  Let it sit for 10 minutes until nice and frothy.
  • In a stand mixer place the flour, sugar, spices, and salt and stir to combine. Make a well and add the melted butter, egg, lemon zest, and yeast mixture. Use the dough hook to knead until just combined. The dough will be very thick (do not add more liquid at this point because the wet currants/raisins will be added). Add drained currants and raisins and candied lemon peel. Knead until combined, adding some of the reserved currant/raisin juice until a soft dough forms. Scrape down the dough from the sides of the bowl.  Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 90-120 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough.  If making two smaller loaves, divide the dough in half and shape into rounds. If making one large loaf (as pictured), place the dough in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for another hour or longer until nearly doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the barmbrack on the middle rack for 50-60 minutes (less if making two smaller loaves) or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and while hot brush the loaf with the reserved currant/raisins juice for more flavor, moistness, and a nice sheen and let cool.
  • Slice and serve. Barmbrack is especially good toasted and spread with butter.
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