Tea Brack

Barm brack

Peter Flynn

Supervalu Barmbrack, a commercially produced sweet bread containing dried fruits. Traditionally eaten sliced, either toasted or untoasted with butter around halloween in Ireland. The loaf traditionally a ring hidden within, the finder of which is said to be married within the year.

I can’t remember who suggested baking a brack this year, but I went looking for a recipe that I could do in my bread machine (a Panasonic BreadBakery at the time). Most of the recipes said it couldn’t be done, so I had to try…

I ended up with Rhonda Hetzel’s recipe from her Down To Earth blog, baking only a half-quantity as a test to start with — only to find that it needed vastly more liquid than given. The result below is based on that adaptation, as a brack needs to be a fairly small loaf…you can always bake two.

This produces a roughly 750 g loaf. It’s up to you whether or not you add a ring.

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Makes 1. Serves 10. Heat your (fan) oven to 160°C. Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 1.5 hours.


  • 500 g mixed dried fruits | and peel [sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, cherries, whatever you fancy]
  • 1 large mug very strong tea [2 bags]
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ mug warm milk [same size of mug as you used for the tea]
  • 250 g white strong bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt (see tip)
  • 2 tbsp Muscovado dark sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp butter | melted


  1. Soak the dried fruits in the tea for an hour or more (overnight is fine, too), then drain through a sieve and discard the tea.

  2. Mix the yeast, caster sugar, and milk and leave for five minutes.

  3. Put the yeast mix and the remaining ingredients (except the dried fruits) into the breadmaker and set to your breadmaker’s equivalent of White Loaf, Rapid Bake, Medium Size.

  4. Let it mix for 10 minutes, then add the dried fruits.

  5. Let it rise and bake.

If (as Rhonda) suggests, you only use the breadmaker for making and rising the dough, and your machine has a raisin/nut dispenser big enough, use it. I can’t, because my dispenser is far too small for this quantity of fruit; and I had to use the Rapid program because that’s the only one that matches the requirement for one hour to rise and half an hour to bake — the normal bake programs are far too long. For this reason, I had to add the fruit by hand, as the Rapid program on the Panasonic doesn’t use the raisin/nut dispenser.

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