Barmbrack is a sweet loaf filled with fruit. It comes from the Irish words bairin meaning loaf, and breac meaning speckled. So the word barmbrack literally translates as speckled loaf, because of the appearance of the fruit within the bread.
It was traditionally eaten as a sweet afternoon snack, spread with butter and served with a nice cup of tea. Barmbrack can be baked as one whole loaf and cut into slices, or made as several individual portions.
Like colcannon, barmbrack is now a traditional food eaten in Ireland at Halloween. There is a custom in which various items are cooked within the loaf, with each one signifying something for the future of the person who ends up with it on their plate.
If your piece of barmbrack contained a pea inside it, then it signified that you would not get married that year. If yours contained a stick, then you would endure a difficult period in your marriage for the following twelve months, or suffer in some sort of dispute if you were not married.
If you found a piece of cloth inside your barmbrack, then you would suffer bad luck or struggle financially, and if you found a coin, then you would enjoy a prosperous year.
Finally, a ring inside your piece of barmbrack signified that you would find love and get married.
Barmbrack is still made each Halloween by families in Ireland. It is also still produced and sold commercially during the holiday, with a free ring being given away with each loaf.
What you will need
Here is a video from YouTube chef O’Reilly’s Recipes showing you how to make Barmbrack.