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Barmbrack (Irish Fruitcake) Recipe

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Vegan, Dairy-Free, Scrumptious Fruitcake — for Halloween or Anytime!

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake known for its unique connection to Halloween. The name barmbrack comes from the Irish term báirín breac, which means “speckled bread.” It’s a moist, sweet loaf made with tea-soaked raisins and sultanas.

What makes it particularly special is the inclusion of symbolic items baked into the cake. These items, such as a ring, a coin, a pea, and a stick, carry distinct meanings for those who find them. The tradition of including these objects in barmbrack turns it into a form of fortune-telling game.

Barmbrack’s association with Halloween in Ireland is rooted in the tradition of divination and superstition. People would eagerly anticipate the slicing of the barmbrack on Halloween night, as the item they found in their slice was believed to foretell their future.

For example, finding a ring meant one would be married within the year, while discovering a coin signified good fortune. Today, barmbrack remains a beloved treat during the Halloween season, and the tradition of including symbolic items continues to be a fun and cherished part of this festive time in Ireland.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas)
  • 1 cup strong brewed black tea (cooled)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam (for glazing)

Directions

  1. Start by brewing a strong cup of black tea and letting it cool. Once cooled, pour it over the mixed dried fruit in a large bowl. Make sure all the fruit is submerged. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight, allowing the fruit to plump up.
  2. The next day, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line a 7-8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  4. Stir the applesauce and vanilla extract into the soaked dried fruit.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture, stirring until well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the Barmbrack from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a few minutes. Then, transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once the Barmbrack has cooled, warm the marmalade or apricot jam in a small saucepan. Brush it over the top of the cake for a glossy finish.
  10. Slice and serve your vegan Barmbrack. It’s best enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.

This vegan Barmbrack is a delicious treat for Halloween or any time you want to savor a spiced fruitcake with a bit of Irish tradition.

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