Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stuck For Party Food Ideas?


I have a little recipe for you this evening. It’s for the Irish Halloween cake, barmbrack. Actually, it’s more a bread than a cake but we’ll not split hairs. Either way it’s yummy. I’ll not be baking it myself for another couple of weeks (I‘ve other plans for the blog party), but I did have some shop-bought stuff this morning. Toasted with the butter melting into it, washed down with a good strong cup of tea. Heaven.

It’s really worth going to the effort of making your own ‘cause the kind you buy these days are so boring. Some might taste good, and the odd one might have a cheap plastic ring thrown in, but for health and safety reasons they don’t bake in any other little charms or prizes anymore. When I was a kid it was so exciting to see what you were going to get. You only ever really cared about the coin, though; it was usually a 50p or £1 piece, a fortune in the days when penny sweets cost a penny.  

<---A brack by any other name…image by Tom Allen.

Ah, yet another one of those dying traditions I was lamenting the last day. Fortune telling used to be a big element of an Irish Halloween but, like the poor wee fae, it’s becoming increasingly forgotten. Baking lucky trinkets into things like barmbrack or apple tart was just one of the many ways of predicting your fate for the coming year. If you were served the slice of brack with the coin in it, for example, you could expect a wealthy time ahead. 

A ring, a pea, a thimble, a piece of cloth, a matchstick, a button…any combination of these items or others might be baked into a brack. They all have a meaning, usually something to do with money and marriage, but I can’t recount them all right now. Goggle’d probably tell you. Though you really could use anything that symbolises something to you. Just wrap up the little tokens in greaseproof paper and toss them in to the dough mix!

Right, back to the recipe. Just a few things to note first of all: some people say you should soak the dried fruit in tea over night to make them plump and juicy, but I wouldn’t bother me arse. Keep your tea for drinking with it. And you can also use baking soda instead of the yeast like your supposed to, or even just self raising flour, especially if your as inexperienced a baker as I am. Oh, and in true Irish baking style, all measurements are approximate :)

You will need:
-1lb Dried Fruit (raisins, sultanas, mixed peel etc);
-An Egg;
-1lb Flour;
-1 Teaspoon Baking Soda;
-1 Teaspoon Mixed Spice;
-6oz Brown Sugar;
-Honey for glaze (optional).

Method:
Sift the flour, baking soda, spice etc into the fruit mixture. Add the beaten egg and mix. Pour mixture onto a lined and greased 7” round cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour and a half. Let stand for ten minutes then cool on a wire rack. Brush on the melted honey for decoration. 

Naturally, there are much more complicated and fancier recipes out there but this is about the most my oven expertise can handle.  I hope some of you give it a go, and don’t forget to include the lucky charms!

8 comments:

LyndaB said...

Oh that looks really good - I would like to try this!

JJ Beazley said...

Ya minx, Roisin. Now you have me salivating and not a raisin in the house.

TheBlakkDuchess said...

This sounds tasty...
And thanks for the well wishes. I'm feeling better than yesterday & the day before, but still sick... bleh.

And since you like the adorable undead bunny, I'm passing him on to you! =D

Zuzu said...

Oh my!!! I'm grabbing a recipe card as soon as I finish typing this comment. I've never heard of barmbrack before, but it looks and sounds fabulous! And my Irish ancestors are whispering to me that I'll really love it! :)

Thank you & a very happy day to you, Róisín!
~ Zuzu

Róisín said...

Yippee! I've got you all craving barmbrack now! Actually, now I've got myself wanting some again. It is really, really tasty. Hope you got the raisins in JJ! Myself, I'm off to put the kettle on and fire up the toaster :) Oh, and thanks so much for the bunny Annalee! I will cherish him.

D.Suplicki said...

Mmmm... barmbrack sounds delectable! I love the old traditions that different people have and am actually familiar with the baking of things into the Halloween cake, although I never knew the cake's name. It's one of those things I've always meant to make for one of my own parties. :)

Róisín said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Róisín said...

I'll swap you barmbrack for your pumpkin picking tradition Danni! I just love the idea of rummaging through corn fields and pumpkin patches in cool Autumn air; it sounds magical. Going in search of the perfect turnip just doesn't seem as appealing ;)

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