Archive for October 18th, 2011

Traditional Halloween Barmbrack

18 October 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I am spending this Halloween with my family and nieces in Cork and wanted to resurrect one of my favourite Halloween traditions-the Barmbrack. For the non-Irish the Barmbrack, or tea brack, is traditionally consumed on Halloween with a number of items hidden in the cake which reveal the fortune of those who consume it. According to Darina Allen (in Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course) ‘Barm’ comes from an old English word ‘Beorma’ which means yeasted or fermented liquor and ‘brack’ is the Irish for ‘speckled’. Growing up in Ireland in the 80s I did not consume the traditional home-made Barmbrack- the shop bought was always more highly prized than the home-made and so like many homes we sat around a shop bought brack that was inferior in a number of ways. Only one item, the ring, was ever included and this item was meant to symbolise that the person would marry shortly. Like the free toy in a cereal box all four of us kids fought for it (although I am sure none of us had any interest in getting married at that point)!

Despite, or perhaps because of this, I wanted to try to introduce my nieces to the traditional and proper Irish concept of the Barmbrack and I thought I would share my brack findings with you. The Barmbrack is essentially a simple fruit bread, but traditionally the dried fruit is soaked overnight in tea to give it an added flavour. There are a number of different items which are included and which I am sure varied widely. Read more