Friday, October 28, 2011

Ireland's Charming Halloween Bread

As Halloween is associated with fortune telling and divination, Barmbrack is traditionally made at this time of year, for it has various charms literally baked into the dough.  Each one’s significance is as follows: a ring ~ to foretell marriage, a silver coin ~ to herald wealth, a pea or thimble ~ indicates spinsterhood, a small piece of cloth ~ portends poverty, a button ~ means bachelorhood, and a piece of matchstick foreshadows an abusive spouse. “Barm” is from the olde English word “beorma”, meaning yeasty fermented liquor.  Brack comes from an Irish word meaning “speckled”, which this bread is with dried fruit. 

1 lb flour
6 oz sugar
1 lb mixed dried fruit
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp ground allspice
Pot of hot black tea

Wrap each charm carefully in parchment paper.
The trick to making a Barm Brack is the soaking of fruit overnight in the
tea. While this makes the dried fruit softer and more appealing in general,
one must be careful when mixing the dough not to over-knead or the
rehydrated fruit will break too much. Add the sugar and egg to the fruit mix the next day. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix gently. Stir in the wrapped charms and try to distribute them evenly. Use a round
baking pan at 350°F for about 60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

The Breac (bread) can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an air-tight
container. It is traditional that only he/she who has baked it should
cut and serve the slices on October 31st! It is also good toasted and served with hot cider or tea.

1 comment:

  1. hi! the ham is an italian rosemary cotta. you can find it in a good italian deli!