Barm Brack (Bairín Brack)

By | October 22, 2017

Barm Brack

Barm Brack is a traditional fruit bread/cake which is served at Halloween in Ireland. The tradition was that the brack contained different objects which turned it into a sort of a fortune telling experience. The following items were commonly added:

  • a ring to represent marriage
  • a coin to represent wealth
  • a small piece of cloth to represent poverty
  • a pea meaning plenty
  • a stick to beat your husband/wife with 

In modern times the ring is the one that is still traditionally done, the other ones have fallen out of practice. If you wish to add all of them to yours I recommend using a matchstick, 1c or 1p coin, a pea, a rag and a ring and wrapping each in baking paper before stirring into the mix. N.B. If you have small children do take care and watch them carefully. Slice thinly so you can identify if something is in their slice before it reaches their mouth. 

Barm Brack

Barm Brack (Bairín Brack)

Barm Brack is a traditional fruit bread/cake which is served at Halloween. In Ireland the tradition is to add certain things to the brack.  e.g. a ring to represent marriage, a coin to represent wealth, a small piece of cloth to represent poverty etc. In modern times the ring is the one that is still traditionally done, the other ones have fallen out of practice. 

  • 300 g Mixed dried fruit
  • 225 ml Hot tea
  • 225 g Plain flour
  • 125 g Golden brown sugar
  • 50 g Dairy Free Margarine ([I used Pure Olive Spread])
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 pinch Mixed Spice
  • 1 ring ([I used one we got in a shop-bought brack, but  you could probably get one in a Euro-shop/Pound Shop])
  1. Make the tea.
  2. Put the dried fruit in a bowl and add the juice, zest and hot tea and leave to soak overnight. (You can do this for less time if you are short on time).

  3. Preheat oven to 180C / 170 fan / 350F / Gas Mark 4.

  4. Grease a 2lb loaf tin.

  5. Cream the margarine and sugar together and beat in egg and sieved flour.
  6. Wrap the ring in baking paper.
  7. Stir in the fruit mixture including the tea and orange juice. Stir in the ring. 

  8. Pour into the loaf tin.

  9. Bake for 1 hour. Test the brack with a skewer and if it comes out clean it is cooked.

 Barm Brack



Free From Halloween

This Hallowe’en I’m teaming up again with the Free From Gang, to bring a bunch of spooky recipes suitable for people with many different allergies. The team are coming up with amazing creepy creations such as 

I will be adding more between now and Hallowe’en so be sure to check back in! 


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Halloween Barm Brack

21 thoughts on “Barm Brack (Bairín Brack)

  1. brid

    Some people don’t realise what breac means ….. Let’s treasure our culture …. where oiche samhna started, before it went world wide!

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  4. Glutarama

    I totally love this Laura, the cake looks delicious – just my cup of tea but the tradition behind it is beyond lovely. Having read history at uni this particular type of post make me smile from ear to ear xxx

    1. Laura Post author

      Thanks so much Becca, it really is nice. Glad you like the history bit, it’s a cool tradition.

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  6. Charlotte Oates

    I’ve never heard of a Barm Brack before but it sounds delicious and I love the idea of adding all those little bits and pieces. I’m can’t image a stick big enough to beat anyone with fitting in a cake though!

  7. Laura Post author

    I think some people call it Barn Brack or Tea Brack. It’s a light-ish fruit cake I guess.

    1. Laura Post author

      One of my readers messaged me yesterday and her gluten free egg free version looks even better!


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