13 Jun


Barmbrack is a traditional Irish bread made with dried fruit that has been steeped in tea. Often served on Halloween, I chose it to represent Ireland in our Euro 2016 food challenge.

There are both yeast and quick bread versions of barmbrack – I decided to make a yeast one using a recipe I’d clipped from a magazine years ago.

I soaked my fruit in the morning, planning to bake mid-afternoon, in time for the Ireland-Sweden match, but the dough had other plans…

For one thing, it was very sticky and I ended up incorporating quite a bit of extra flour to get something I could knead. The weather was cold and damp today, and it took more than two hours to rise.

With the extra flour, it was slow to bake as well, and I had to cover the top with tinfoil to prevent it burning.

Happily, it was worth the effort. The final loaf was moist and flavourful (if slightly heavy), with a lovely crust. It should make great toast – just as well, as we have plenty of it.

(one large loaf)

  • 500g mixed fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, etc)
  • 1/2 cup strong, hot tea
  • 500g white bread flour
  • 75g butter, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 sachet instant yeast (7g)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 125ml milk, warm
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  1. Soak the dried fruit in the tea for at least two hours.
  2. Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers.
  3. Add the salt, mixed spice, yeast and caster sugar. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the milk and half the egg. Mix well, then turn onto a floured surface and knead until you have a nice, elastic ball of dough.
  5. Drain the fruit, and add to the dough a handful at a time, until it is all incorporated, adding extra flour if necessary.
  6. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, Cover and leave to rise until almost double in size (about two hours).
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  8. Tip the dough onto the work surface, and knead lightly. Shape into a ball, and place on an oiled baking sheet. Brush the surface with the remaining beaten egg.
  9. Bake for about an hour, until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

Family score: 7 out of 10


2 Responses to “Barmbrack”

  1. Mastering Persian Cooking June 13, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    All your bread recipes look delicious. I could live on bread alone I love it so much. I have never had a bread with tea. What an interesting recipe. Thanks for sharing :)/

    • Andrea June 13, 2016 at 10:43 pm #

      You’re most welcome — I’m a bread lover myself!

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