Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Barmbrack Cake

It's almost Halloween! So before you start dressing up and stocking candy I want to share one more recipe. It's another traditional Halloween recipe, but this time all the way from Ireland. And it's a fruitcake!! Can you resist fruitcakes? Because if you can: congratulations to you! But I seriously eat half this cake in one day. What am I saying? A few hours!


Now I went ahead and said this was a traditional Halloween recipe, but if we really wanted to be traditional than this would be a bread. Also, we'd have to stuff the cake or bread full with little trinkets. Like a ring, a coin, a pea, a stick and a piece of cloth. There are different explanations for those, but the first two seem to consistently represent wealth, luck and marriage. So stick to a ring and a coin just to be sure whoever gets something will at least be lucky! Then again, anyone eating a whiskey fruitcake should be considered lucky.

Barmbrack Cake
a 22cm/8-9inch loaf - adapted from DonalSkehan and EatsAmazing

200 ml strong (Earl Grey) tea
50 ml whiskey
250 grams dried fruits * 
225 grams flour
2 teaspoons baking powder 
100 grams sugar
1 teaspoon spices
1 egg
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Leave the tea to cool down to room temperature. Add the whiskey and dried fruits, together with the tea, into a bowl. Cover and leave to soak. (Ideally this'd be overnight: it really makes a difference! If you're in a hurry soaking while you prepare the other ingredients works as well.)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices together.
3. Add all the other (wet) ingredients into the bowl. Stir until you have an even, slightly liquid, consistency. The batter should drop off the spoon easily, but not instantly. Depending on how long you leave the fruits to soak you may need more or less tea at this point.
4. Pour the batter into a greased or lined tin and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes on 175 degrees Celsius or 345 degrees Fahrenheit. The cake is done once the top is browned and dry and a skewer comes out clean.

* think currants, sultanas, (glacé) cherries and cranberries, but anything will do.

Soaking the dried fruits in the tea and whiskey really makes a difference. I know I said that in the recipe, but I'm saying it again. The taste of the tea and whiskey will be much more prominent in the barmbrack as they won't get lost in the mixture of ingredients, but instead are captured inside the fruits. For this method you might need a bit more tea (or just water to add - up to 50ml).


I never actually soaked fruits for a fruitcake overnight before, but this time I started preparing the cake and then realized I didn't have time to make it after all. So they sat on my counter top overnight anyway. The next day, after the cake was baked and cooled, I was amazed by the difference. As soon as I took a bite of one of the fruits I could almost literally taste the tea and whiskey. I'm really glad I learned this by accident because I never want to do it differently again!

Also I'm quite happy that a cake made with tea turned out fine. I've tried making an Early Grey Poundcake before and it was horrible. Have you guys tried making a tea-cake before?

14 comments:

  1. A earl grey cake, genius, absolutely perfect!

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    1. Thank you so much Pamela! :) Hope you get to try it soon!

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  2. Barmbrack! A favourite in our house! and something our family likes to make every Halloween. I always add whiskey to the tea mixture too :-) Looks wonderful and I love the string decoration

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    1. Ooh, thats so good to hear! Sometimes when I look up traditional recipes, I wonder if they actually still 'live' somewhere :) Plus a fruitcake feels so much like Christmas to me, I couldn't imagine anyone eating it around Halloween! :P

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  3. I love how this is flavoured with Earl Grey, sounds delicious!

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    1. It was!! But I might be biased cuz I ~LOVE~ fruitcakes..

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  4. That reminds me of my Nanas Christmas pudding with her old English coins. Same coins for 60 years!

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    1. Haha, I'm surprised they haven't rusted and poisoned you guys yet ;) A trinket-stuffed Christmas pudding sounds amazing though.. I'm going to put that on my list for Christmas!

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  5. I've heard of this but was never sure what it was. You've convinced me it's a good thing whether we call it bread or cake. And I love a little symbolism in food - finding a trinket would be fun (assuming no one accidentally eats it). : )

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    1. Good point actually.. I'm just reminded of how I need to properly chew on all my food. I think I already did this, but I might need to put some extra care into it when eating fruitcakes or christmas puddings!
      And this barmbrack was definitely a good thing! I hope you get to try it soon :)

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  6. What a great post! I'd never heard of a traditional Halloween fruitcake (always just a Christmas one!), and I loved the story about how a traditional bread would be stuffed with little trinkets. So cool! And, this looks absolutely delicious - the combination of whiskey and Earl Grey sounds fantastic!!! Genius about the soaking!

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    1. Woah, so many compliments in one message! D: I have totally agree with you on one point: I never heard of Halloween fruitcakes either. Eating it makes me feel so Christmas-y! But apparently it's a traditional Halloween thing in Ireland.. And it actually still LIVES! So now I know exactly where I'll need to be during Halloween ;) (It's not America! I just found a few days ago you don't give home-made goodies to the trick-or-treaters! How dare you?!)

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  7. I've wanted to make one of these ever since I travelled to Ireland. It looks awesome, thanks for the recipe! :)

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    1. I really hope you get to try it! And I really hope it tastes as awesome as you remember it ;)

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