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Irish Halloween Bread

Happy halloween everyone. It’s that time of year when we are all searching for festive treats to eat. It seems society comes up with new ways of making us spend our money whatever the season. For the milling industry it is a time of year when special festive bakes take centre stage so I thought I would share an old recipe with you for Irish Barm Brack.

Barm Brack – photo courtesy of Saving Room for Desert

Barm Brack is a traditional Irish recipe served around Halloween. Barm Brack is a little sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake. The Irish bake items into the bread as a game of fortune-telling. Sometimes there is a ring indicating an impending marriage or a coin foretelling good luck or riches.

Ingredients
  • 4-3/4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cup milk (heated to 95-100 degrees on an instant read thermometer)
  • ⅓ cup water, plus extra as needed
  • ⅓ cup Irish Whiskey, such as Bushmills or Jameson
  • vegetable oil for the bowl and pan
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¾ cups mixed golden raisins, raisins, and dried currants
  • 1 -2 tablespoons milk for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar for garnish
  1. Place the raisins, currants and golden raisins in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the whiskey and ⅓ cup water. Soak the fruit for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. When ready to start the bread, drain the raisins reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the soaking liquid to measure ⅔ cup. Set aside the fruit and liquid.
  3. Sift the flour, allspice and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir in the yeast and granulated sugar. Turn the stand mixer on the lowest setting and add the warmed milk, water and whiskey mixture. Mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, becoming slightly sticky but soft.
  4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly for one minute. Add the butter and soaked fruit and work them in until completely incorporated. Return the dough to the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the bread to rise again – for about 30 minutes.
  6. Oil or grease a 9″ spring-form or cake pan. Form the dough into a neat circle and press into the prepared pan. Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place until it has risen again, about 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes then cover with foil. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a rack and cool.
  8. Serve sliced spread with butter.