This Barm Brack recipe has been handed down to me by my mother. It’s her tea brack but I’ve tweaked it a little. No Halloween spread is complete without a barmbrack. It’s a spooky fortune-telling loaf that also tastes delicious with butter and a hot cup of tea. Such a winning combination! My kids love to bake this with me each year. The trinkets sunk into the batter symbolise what will happen in your future, so make sure to include a few for fun. I always add the ring and coin, wrapped in baking paper, but the others are optional! It’s rare to find most of these fortune-telling tokens in shop-bought barmbracks, as they’re choking hazards, so make sure you wrap them up well and inform everyone they’re there. I once found a rag in a brownie that I was eating in a café in Edinburgh. The prophecy there was that I would never go to that café again!
Barm Brack Recipe by Lilly Higgins and her 3rd book – The Homemade Year
What you’ll need:
300ml hot tea (made with 2 normal teabags and 1 earl grey/cinnamon and liquorice/spiced chai, etc.)
100g chopped dried dates
1–2 tbsp orange juice
150g brown sugar
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp honey, to glaze
Trinkets (optional), wrapped well in baking paper!
Makes 1 barmbrack
- The day before you bake, make the tea and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
- Place the sultanas, raisins and chopped dates into a bowl. Remove the tea bags from the pot and pour the hot tea over the fruit.
- Cover and leave overnight to soak.
- The next day preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 23cm × 12cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Whisk the egg. Add to the fruit mix along with the orange juice, sugar, flour and mixed spice. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and push any wrapped trinkets halfway down into the batter. Bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Turn out onto a wire rack and, while still quite warm, brush the top with the honey.
Optional Fortune-telling trinkets for this Barm Brack recipe and their meanings
The ring: impending marriage, but only if you’re single
The coin: predicts wealth and fortune
The rag: bad luck and poverty, sorry!
The stick: an unhappy marriage
The pea: you won’t be getting married anytime soon
The medal: you’ll join a religious order
“You won’t find a pipe cleaner in this book! With a basic arsenal of sticky tape, paper, glue stick and twine you can create magic. Egg boxes, twigs and old clothes can all be transformed into hot water bottle covers, table centrepieces and scented diffusers. Creativity can often be a spur of the moment thing, you feel like making something or a window of time has suddenly opened up (the baby is sleeping or that zoom call is cancelled!) Having to run to the shop for special equipment can dampen the mood.
There are at least six projects for each month of the year that will give you ideas for celebrations, crafts, self care, activities to do with kids, ways to decorate your home and seasonal recipes, all of which are guided by the Irish calendar year, from St Brigid’s crosses in February to Yule Logs in December. These activities are about making the most of what we’ve got, providing inspiration for fun and creativity off screen, slowing down and making the everyday moments special. As we’ve all discovered it’s more important than ever to celebrate the small things.”