Barm Brack

Barm Brack or speckled bread, called in Irish Bairìn breac, is a yeasted bread with sultanas and raisins; usually it is served sliced and buttered with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

Barm brack belongs to the Irish Halloween tradition. Halloween has always been associated with fortune-telling and divination, so various objects are hidden and baked in the mixture of the loaf: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin, a ring or a thimble; all of them have a meaning, for example the ring a wedding, the stick an unhappy marriage, the coin good fortune or be rich and the piece of cloth bad luck.

Although Barm Brack is usually made with a yeasted dough, there are other delicious versions such as the following, where the fruit is soaked in tea.



  1. Put the sugar, the fruit and peel in a bowl, pour over the tea, cover and leave to stand overnight.

  2. Set oven to 180°C

  3. Stir the beaten egg into the fruit mixture and add the flour and the spice. Mix gently.

  4. Put the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or more until well risen covering the top with kitchen foil.

  5. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out.

  6. Serve sliced and buttered.


Traditionally the barm brack has a round shape, so it can be baked in round cake tin.

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