This week Donegal Daily’s cooking columnist, Chef Martin Anderson of Sonder, talks about the tradition of the barmbrack and gives us the perfect recipe to make your own!
Well Halloween is just a little over a week away and there will be loads of nuts, apples, pumpkins and clowns knocking about over the next 2 weeks.
It was always a tradition in our family to roast a massive tray of peanuts in their shells and slowly devour them over the Halloween week – the only thing was we used to throw the shells back into the tray and towards the end of the celebrations the nuts got scarce, it was like a lucky dip sometimes.
Pumpkins were not so common in those days but are readily available these days, so make sure you make a nice pumpkin soup or pie out of the flesh you scoop out when you are carving them.
What better way to celebrate this spooky time of year than with a traditional Barmbrack though , it’s simple to bake and there is always a bit of fun when someone finds the hidden gift baked inside, make sure the items are well cleaned and wrapped in grease proof paper, sometimes the metal will react with the mix and turn the brack green.
Traditionally the items are a coin for wealth or good fortune, a ring… will marry within the year, a dried bean… for poverty, a dried pea and you will not marry within the year, a matchstick… unhappy marriage, a thimble and it’s the single life for you, I can’t remember which I found in the last brack I had!
As with all baking make sure you have the right equipment, that your oven is clean and working properly and that you have the correct weight of your required ingredients.
This recipe needs the fruit to soak at least 12hrs in advance and I’ve added a little marmalade to the mix to give that extra big of zing to the flavour of the Brack .
You will need a 2lb loaf tin or cake tin, make sure it’s well buttered and lined with non stock baking parchment.
You will need:
> 375 g of mixed dried fruit ! You may buy a bag of mixed fruits or make up your own with Raisins, Sultanas, cranberries cherries, mixed peel etc
> A shot of Irish whiskey or brandy
> 250 ml of hot tea
> butter, for greasing
> 225 g of plain flour
> 2 tsp baking powder
> 125 g of brown sugar
> 1/2 tsp of mixed spice or cinnamon
> 1 large egg
> 1 tablespoon of marmalade
> The gifts you wish to use.
> Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the whiskey/brandy and hot tea.
> Allow to soak up the liquid overnight.
> Preheat your oven to 170°C
> Grease and line your loaf tin.
> Beat your egg and marmalade together, it’ll look a bit odd but it’s okay.
> Sieve the the flour, baking powder and mixed spice together in a mixing bowl add the sugar and mix well .
> Add the egg & marmalade mix to the dry ingredients.
> Add a little bit of the liquid from the mixed fruit and mix it through.
> Don’t add all the liquid or it will be too wet , though you are looking for a wet dough.
> Stir in the mixed fruit until everything is thoroughly combined.
> Add the trinkets you have chosen and stir through.
> Spoon the wet dough into the loaf or cake tin, place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 1 hour
> Remove from the oven and check if it’s cooked, this can be fond with a wooden or metal skewer, simply pierce the brack in the Center and remove the skewers it should come out clean and dry, if it’s still raw return to the oven until cooked through .
> When cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin and placing on wire rack.
> Allow to cool fully before covering Cover in cling film and foil and allow to sit for 1–2 days before cutting into it.
> Serve in slices, spread with a little butter and watch out for those wee gifts inside or you’ll break your teeth!
Next week I’ll give you some party food ideas for Halloween night and a pumpkin soup recipe too, so keep an eye out for that.
You may follow me on snapchat @cheftothestars or like our page Sonder to keep an eye on what we are serving daily.
Thank you as always for your continued support.Tags: