This traditional Irish fruit cake, or Barm Brack as it’s called, is typically eaten at Halloween. It was a year round favourite when I was growing up though and I also tend to make it at any time of the year when the fancy takes me. Funnily enough I’m not a big fan of dried fruit and even pick the raisins out of my muesli. However, for some reason when it comes to a good fruit cake, it’s another story – I love it. Tradition has it in Ireland that at Halloween a ring (or another fortune-telling object) is baked in the Barm Brack, and superstition has it that the person who finds the ring will be married within the year. In this house it was my husband who got the ring this time. I’m not sure what the significance of that is! Nevertheless, I think it beats the more callous tradition of baking a stick in the cake – to beat your wife with – which forewarns of an unhappy marriage.
Anyway, I have to say that this cake is very easy to make, tastes fantastic and is enjoyed by young and old in this family :)
Makes 1 large loaf and 1 small
450g soft brown sugar
425ml freshly brewed tea
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons warm honey to glaze
* you can adjust the fruit ratio as you wish. In fact in the version I baked this Halloween I used 830g raisins and 70g dried blueberries and it worked a treat.
Put the fruit and sugar in a bowl and pour in the tea. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
Heat the oven to 160° C
Butter 1 large loaf tin and 1 smaller one and dust them with some flour. Add the flour and the beaten eggs alternately to the fruit & tea mixture. Next, add the baking powder and the spices and mix. Pop the ring in (I usually wrap it in baking parchment for easy identification) if using. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and place in the oven for 1¼ to 1½ hours. (Test with a skewer to make sure the cake is cooked though).
Allow the loaves to cool slightly before turning them onto a cooling rack. When cold, brush the warmed honey over the top of the cakes and allow it to set.
Serve in slices with plenty of lovely butter.