Bairín Breac or Barm Brack or tea bread is an Irish Halloween tradition. Barm ( pronounced barn) is a cross between a tea bread and a cake as it contains lots of fruit which has been soaked in cold tea and whiskey!
The word brack comes from an old Irish word ‘breac’ which means speckled as in bread speckled with fruit. The word ‘ bairin’ means a loaf. It was an Irish custom to bake little gifts or items such as a ring, a matchstick, a coin , a pea , a button and a thimble! It was a fun and lighthearted form of fortune telling as the little gifts caused great excitement at tea time as everyone waited to see who would be lucky enough to get the ring! Finding the ring in your slice of brack meant a wedding within a year while a coin denoted wealth , a button a bachelor! The halloween brack was always buttered and eaten when having a cup of tea.
Bairín Breac Recipe from a family recipe and also Donal Skeehan’s recipe.
225 g plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
350-370g of currants, raisins and sultanas
125g light brown sugar
Half tsp or 2.5 ml mixed spice
Half tsp or 2.5 ml cinnamon
50 ml of whiskey
250 ml of cold tea
Put the dried fruit in a bowl and pour the cold tea and whiskey over it and leave to soak overnight or for a few hours.
Put the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and baking powder into a bowl. Add the beaten egg and fruit mixture and mix. The dough should be a wet or have a moist consistency. Pour into a lined 2 lb / 1 kg loaf tin. You can wrap a ring or coin in greaseproof paper and put it into the cake mixture in tin. This way you will know where the ring or gifts are which is important if children are going to have some! Bake in oven 180 Degrees C for approximately 1 hour. Cool on a wire wrack. This brack can be eaten fresh but tastes even better if wrapped in tin foil and stored for 2 or 3 days if there is any left!
An Afternoon of Spices and Aromas. I owe my late grandmother an apology. One of her favourite phrases ‘Ginger is good for you’ came back to haunt me recently when I decided to make some Rhubarb and ginger jam. I had decided I did not like ginger, when I was seven, after biting into a piece of the fresh ginger root that Gran used as a spice when making her rhubarb jam. Last week, however, tucking into delicious scones and a selection of jams at a friend’s coffee morning, I discovered that not only did I adore the combination of rhubarb and fresh ginger but it was very addictive! So I decided to find out more about rhubarb and of course ginger! The first surprise was to discover rhubarb is a perennial vegetable although it is usually used in jams and desserts! It was thought to have medicinal effects in ancient China. Ginger is mainly grown in Australia, India, China and Africa. It is aromatic, zesty and spicy so naturally adds great flavour to food. But it also has therapeutic properties and has anti- oxidant and anti- inflammatory effects. I decided to make my own rhuburb and ginger jam using a combination of recipes and tips from Rachel Allen, Good Housekeeping Recipes and A Family recipe.
2 lbs sugar ( I used 4oz less as it would be very sweet)
3 tabsp of freshly grated ginger
Juice 2 or 3 lemons
or 3 oz water
Put on low heat to dissolve sugar and then boil for 15 – 25 minutes until set . Put in heated sterilised jars.