Barmbrack


Barmbrack

Barmbrack (Irish: Báirín Breac) is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins. Usually sold in flattened rounds, it is often served toasted with butter along with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake, and the sultanas and raisins add flavour and texture to the final product. In Ireland it is sometimes called Báirín Breac, and the term is also used as two words in its more common version. This is from the Irish word báirín - the top - and breac - dirty or speckled. It is said that the yeast used was skimmed from the top of fermenting beer and, as beer would also have been made at this time, this is probably true.Fact|date=August 2008

Halloween tradition

Barmbrack is the center of an Irish Halloween custom. The Halloween Brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, "to beat one's wife with", would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year.

Commercially produced barmbracks for the Halloween market still include a toy ring.

=Recipe=

Ingredients

*250 g of white flour
*15g of dried baker's yeast
*50 g of fine white sugar
*100mL of warm milk
*half a teaspoon of allspice or mixed cinnamon and nutmeg
*half a teaspoon of salt
*1 small egg
*50g of unsalted butter
*50g of mixed peel
*60g of mixed raisins and sultanas.

Cooking

Steps in "italics" are optional.
#"Soak the dried fruit overnight in weak tea"
#Warm the milk a little, then stir the yeast and one teaspoon of the sugar into two tablespoonfuls of the milk, and let rise for ten minutes.
#"Melt the butter and let it cool."
#Sift the flour, the allspice and the salt into a bowl, and add the rest of the sugar. Pour in the rest of the milk, and the yeast mixture as before.
#Beat the egg with a fork, mix with the butter, add to the bowl, stir a little, and knead the mixture for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl.
#"Cover with a wet cloth"
#Let rise in a warm place for one hour.
#"Dry the mixed peel and fruit, chop the mixed peel up into small sections, roll in a little flour"
#Add the mixed peel and the fruit and knead the mixture vigorously.
#Butter a baking tin and spread the mixture evenly into it. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.
#Heat the oven to 220°C (428°F), put the mixture in to bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 °C (374°F) and bake a little longer.
#Let the barmbrack repose for 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven before extracting it from the tin, and allow to cool thoroughly before cutting. Serve with tea and butter.

=Other references=Barmbracks were famously mentioned in the Van Morrison song "A Sense of Wonder":cquote| Pastie suppers down at Davey's chipper
Gravy rings, barmbracks
Wagon wheels, snowballs.
Reference to barmbracks is made in "Dubliners" by James Joyce. The following example can be found in the first paragraph of Joyce's short story "Clay":

=External links=
* [http://www.catholicculture.org/lit/recipes/view.cfm?id=1335 Hallowe'en Barmbrack]


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