Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake, which I used to get in my school lunchbox around Halloween every year. Traditionally, a ring is baked into the cake, and there would be great excitement every year as to who would get the slice with the ring in it. I always like to think it was Barmbrack that inspired the writers of Father Ted to come up with the episode where Mrs. Doyle bakes a jumper into a cake!
This recipe makes a really beautiful, moist loaf, packed with flavour from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which has sat overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness.
- 375 g (13 oz) packet of mixed dried fruit
- 50 ml (2 fl oz) whiskey
- 250 ml (9 fl oz) cold tea
- Butter, for greasing, plus extra to serve
- 225 g (8 oz) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 125 g (4½ oz) soft light brown sugar
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 1 large egg
- A ring, to place inside (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time: overnight.
1. Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the whiskey and cold tea. Allow to soak up the liquid overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice in a mixing bowl. Make a well and break in the egg, then use a wooden spoon to mix it with the dry ingredients. Add a little bit of the liquid from the mixed fruit and mix it through. You may not need all the liquid, though you are looking for a wet dough.
4. Stir in the mixed fruit until everything is thoroughly combined. Add the ring and stir through. Spoon the wet dough into the lined loaf tin, place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin and placing on a wire rack. When cool, cover in cling film and foil and allow to sit for 1–2 days before cutting into it. Serve in slices, spread with a little butter and accompanied by a good cuppa!