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Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish spiced fruit bread.  I found this recipe years ago and made it for my father’s cousins on St Paddy’s Day when they were visiting San Francisco almost 30 years ago. That was a pretty legendary dinner with about a dozen of us eating Beef Braised in Guinness and consuming a couple pints or so… I’ve been making it ever since. It’s delicious sliced, toasted and buttered – or you can eat it on its own.

Traditionally, the fruit is soaked overnight in 2 cups of strong Irish tea.  Being the non-traditionalist I can sometimes be, I soak the fruit in 2 cups of Irish whisky overnight.  I’ve made it both ways and really prefer the whisky version the best!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (Kerrygold or Plugra European style butter!)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tsp mixed spices (allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon…)

Soak the dried fruit in 2 cups of Irish whisky overnight.

Warm the milk slightly (no more than 110°.) Stir in the teaspoon of sugar and the yeast and let proof about 10 minutes.

Mix the flour, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine. Add the frothy yeast, the beaten egg and the spice. Drain any remaining liquid from the fruit and add the fruit to the mixture. Mix well to make a smooth dough (add more flour if the mixture is too wet).

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead it thoroughly.  (I use my KitchenAid and mix about 6 minutes.) Place the dough in a well-greased 8”-9” springform pan, cover with a cloth, and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 – 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Place the pan in a preheated 350° oven and bake for about 50 minutes. The loaf will be ready when it sounds hollow when you tap on it.

Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack before serving.

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