Irish Yeast-Risen Tea Cake: Barm Brack

A Barm Brack, also known as Irish Tea Cake, is a traditional yeast-risen cake. It is often served during Halloween in Ireland, and is filled with raisins, currants, and candied orange or lemon peel. The dough is made with a mixture of butter, sugar, salt, spices, eggs, and flour, and is allowed to rise for several hours before being baked. This recipe will help you create an authentic Barm Brack that will delight your family and friends.

Ingredients used:

For 1 people

  • 3/4 cup - Milk
  • 1/2 cup - Water
  • 1 1/2 envelopes - Active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 1/2 cups - Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups - Golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup - Currants
  • 1/2 cup - Diced candied orange or lemon peel or a combination
  • 6 tablespoons - Soft unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup - Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon - Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon - Ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon - Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon - Ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon - Ground allspice
  • 2 large - Eggs
  • 3 cups - Unbleached all-purpose flour

Recipe steps:

  • To make the sponge, in a small saucepan over low flame, heat the milk and water until just warm, about 110 degrees. Pour into a small bowl, whisk in yeast and stir in flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow sponge to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
  • Combine the raisins, currants and candied peel in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain fruit and spread it in a single layer on paper towels to cool and dry slightly while preparing the dough.
  • To mix the dough by hand, beat butter with sugar, salt and spices until soft and smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then continue beating until smooth and light. Stir in sponge and remaining flour. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  • To make the dough in a mixer, use a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle and beat butter with sugar, salt and spices until soft and smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then continue beating until smooth and light. Beat in sponge and remaining flour. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  • To mix the dough in the food processor, place butter, sugar, salt, spices and eggs in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 10 or 12 times at 1-second intervals to mix smooth. Remove metal blade and attach plastic blade; add sponge and remaining flour and pulse to form a dough. Process continuously for 15 seconds.
  • Place dough in a buttered bowl and cover with buttered plastic wrap, butter side down. Allow dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough to deflate and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Distribute fruit on dough and knead it in evenly by continuing to fold dough over onto itself. Cover with plastic wrap or a dry towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.
  • Butter two 8-inch diameter by 2-inch deep cake pans and line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment or butter waxed paper, cut to fit. Place half the dough in each and press to make tops flat and even. Cover pans with buttered plastic wrap or a dry towel and allow Bracks to rise until doubled, up to 1 hour.
  • Once the Bracks have begun to puff visibly, set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. When the Bracks are completely risen, bake them for about 45 minutes, or until well risen and a deep golden brown. Test by inserting a thin knife or skewer near the center; if it is done it will emerge without any raw dough clinging to it. Cool on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold and place rack on racks to cool completely.

The result is a delicious, aromatic cake that is perfect for tea time or any special occasion. Barm Brack is a unique and enjoyable treat, and this traditional recipe will help you create a cake that your friends and family will love. Enjoy!