Ancestral Food and Culture
My mother came to visit us last week and to celebrate she made fun and tasty bread for us all to enjoy.
Barmbrack also known as báirín breac (speckled loaf in Irish Gaelic), is a tasty cake made with dried fruit and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The cake gets its name from its appearance, as the fruit is dotted throughout the loaf, and more scarce compared to other types of fruit loaves. It has a similar flavor to fruitcake or a fruit loaf but is less rich. With its warming baking spices, you can make barmbrack all year round, even if it is traditionally served on Halloween. This tradition would date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This would coincide precisely with the harvest season when the fruits were collected and stored to make sweets during the Christmas holidays.
Mix the raisins, sultanas, lemon zest, orange zest, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk the hot tea into the sugar mixture, then cover it and leave it overnight so the flavors can meld together. The next day, combine the flour, baking powder, and spice mix in a large bowl. Add the raisin mixture and the eggs to the flour mixture, making sure to alternate between the two. Beat until the batter is well-combined. Bake the barmbrack for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 ½ hours at 325°F. Let it cool for 20 minutes, then take the cake out of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.
Folkbuilder Timothy Dumas