Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Barmbrack

Halloween Barmbrack

History: A seasonal favorite, the word barm comes from Old English - beorma, which means yeasty, fermented liquor. Brack comes from the Irish word which means speckled. This delicious bread is indeed speckled throughout with dried fruit and candied peel. What makes barmbrack so popular is that various small items or charms are wrapped up and hidden in the cake mixture -a wedding ring, a coin, a thimble or a pea. If someone gets the ring, they will be married within the year; a coin signifies wealth, the thimble foretells spinsterhood and the pea means poverty-

4 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick butter
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups luke-warm milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup black raisins
1/4 cup mixed candied peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Sieve the flour, spices and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter.
2. Cream the yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of the warm milk until it froths slightly.
3. Pour the rest of the warm milk and the egg into the yeast mixture and combine with the dry ingredients and the sugar. Beat well with a wooden spoon or knead until the batter is stiff but elastic.
4. Fold in the dried fruit and chopped peel. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled. Knead again for another 2 or 3 minutes and divide between two greased 1 1b loaf pans.
5. Wrap the charms in greaseproof paper and then hide them in the dough. Be sure they are well distributed. Cover again and leave to rise for about 30 minutes to an hour or until the dough comes up to the top of the pan.
6. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour. Test with a skewer before removing from oven.
7. Glaze the top with 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons of boiling water.
Turn out to cool on a wire rack. When cold, cut into thick slices and slather on the butter.

Note: This is a good keeper, but even when it's stale, Barmbrack
is delicious toasted and buttered.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous April said...

I have enjoyed reading the interesting history of Barmbrack. I like baking bread, and the recipe really appeals to me. Thank you for posting it.

October 31, 2008 at 2:16 PM  

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