A traditional Irish fruit loaf, Barm Brack is made with yeast. It is eaten all the year round in Ireland, but especially at Hallowe’en when, traditionally, a gold ring is baked in it. Whoever finds the ring is supposed to be married within the year.
4 tablespoons plus
1 teaspoon sugar
10 fl. oz. tepid milk
½ oz. fresh yeast
1 lb. flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 oz. butter eggs, lightly beaten
6 oz. raisins
½ cup currants
1 oz. candied peel
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons boiling water
In a small mixing bowl dissolve 1 tea-spoon of sugar in the warm milk.
Crumble the yeast on top and mix with a spoon. Leave in a warm place for 20 minutes or until frothy.
Sift the flour with the remaining sugar, cinnamon, spice and salt into a large, warm mixing bowl. With your fingertips, rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the frothing yeast and milk, and the beaten eggs. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Then, using your fingers, mix the dough into a ball.
Place the dough on a floured surface and knead well until it is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle the raisins, currants, candied peel and caraway seeds on to the dough and knead them in. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean cloth or a polythene bag and leave in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400°F (Gas Mark 6, 200°C). Lightly grease two 1-pound bread tins.
Turn the risen dough on to a floured surface. Divide it into two portions. Lightly knead each portion, shape into rounds and put into the bread tins. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Place the bread tins in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
To make the glaze, dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Remove the loaves from the oven and brush the tops with the sugar-and-water syrup. Return the loaves to the oven for 3 minutes.
Turn the loaves on to a wire rack and leave to cool.