Barm Brack

This Irish fruit bread is sometimes served for Halloween with little charms baked inside, which are supposed to forecast your luck for the following year.

Recipe courtesy of "The Illustrated Kitchen Bible: 1,000 Family Recipes from Around the World" by Victoria Blashford-Snell, copyright 2008. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.

Barm Brack

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    3 1/2 cups mixed raisins, golden raisins, and/or currants 1/4 oz (7 g) envelope instant yeast
    2/3 cup hot brewed strong black tea 1 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
    3 1/2 cups bread flour 1/2 tsp salt
    4 tbsp butter, at room temperature, plus more for the bowl 2/3 cup milk, lukewarm
    2/3 cups sugar 2 large eggs


    Prep: 15 min Total: 60 min
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    • 1

      Mix the dried fruit and tea in a medium bowl. Cover and let stand overnight.

    • 2

      Put the flour in a large bowl. Mix in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, yeast, spice, and salt. Lightly beat the milk and one egg together, add to the flour mixture, and stir to make a stiff dough.

    • 3

      Drain the dried fruit and pat dry. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8–10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Pat out the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with the drained fruit, roll up, and knead just until the fruit is distributed. (Do not knead too much, or the soft fruit will start break up.) If the dough becomes too sticky, knead in a little more flour.

    • 4

      Lightly butter an 8in (20cm) round cake pan. Shape the dough into a ball and press it into the pan. Cover the pan with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Let stand a warm place for 40–60 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.

    • 5

      Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Beat the remaining egg and lightly brush the top of the bread with the egg. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake for another 20–30 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when removed from the pan and tapped on the bottom. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil.

    • 6

      Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve the bread warm or at room temperature.

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