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!