Barmbrack is the center of an Irish Halloween custom. The Halloween Brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Other articles added to the brack include a medallion, usually of the Virgin Mary to symbolize going into the priesthood or to the Nuns, although this tradition is not widely continued in the present day.
Barmbrack (Irish: bairín breac), also called Barnbrack or often shortened to brack, is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins.
Barm Brack – Arán Breac (Speckled Bread)
1 lb flour
6 oz sugar
1 lb mixed dried fruit
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp all spice/mixed spice
Pot of hot Irish tea
The Irish ‘lucky’ ingredients: (can be a choking hazard for small children)
‘gold’ ring, to foretell marriage within a year
small coin, to forecast wealth
small piece of cloth to forecast poverty
little piece matchstick to forecast the husband will beat his wife
thimble to forecast spinsterhood
button to forecast bachelorhood
Wrap each ‘lucky’ item carefully in wax paper.
The trick to making a Barm Brack like soda bread is the soaking of fruit overnight in the
tea. While this makes the dried fruit softer and more appealing in general,
one must be careful when mixing the dough not to over-knead or the
re-hydrated fruit will crumble. Add the sugar and egg to the fruit mix the next day. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix gently. Stir in the wrapped ‘lucky’ items and try to distribute them evenly. Use a 7″ round
baking tin at 350°F for 80 minutes. Cool on a wire baking rack.
The Brack can be made a week in advance and stored in an air-tight
container. It is traditional that only he/she who has baked the cake should
cut and serve the slices, as only he/she may know where are the ‘lucky’
items and will distribute them equitably!!
• 1 lb potatoes
• 1 lb kale or cabbage
• Onion or leek
• 1/4 cup milk
• Butter, salt and pepper
First peel and boil the potatoes. Then chop the kale or cabbage up small. Steam cabbage until tender, about 8 minutes. Then saute the onion until golden. Mash the potatoes well, and mix with the cabbage and onion. Add a wee bit of milk and butter to get that creamy consistency. Then salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a medium oven for about 15 minutes.
- 4 tbsp plain flour (corn starch if you want it to be gluten free)
- 1 ½lb stew beef, trimmed and cut into chunks
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 onions, diced
- 2-3 large carrots, sliced
- 1 ½ cups beef stock (from a stock cube is fine)
- 1 cup of Irish Stout (omit for gluten free and increase beef stock by 1 cup)
- dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 lbs even-sized peeled potatoes
- 3 tbsp (1 ½oz) Irish Butter
- salt and pepper
Coat beef with corn starch. Brown stew beef in a pot with butter and onions. Add carrots, thyme, potatoes, stock, stout and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours until beef is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Irish Soda Bread
This Irish soda bread makes a great breakfast treat. Or omit the raisins and sugar, and add caraway seeds for bread that’s perfect for dinner.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
(we prefer the raisins)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1½ cups 1% buttermilk
⅔ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly add buttermilk, stirring until a soft dough is formed.
Add raisins, and lightly knead the dough on a floured surface for about a minute. Form into a round, slightly flattened shape.
Place dough on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, make an “x” on the top of the dough, about ½-inch deep. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
This is what I’m fixing to make tonight. How about you?
Cottage pie or shepherd’s pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor. (The term “cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind (it was a recipe to re-purpose left overs) , and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.
The term “shepherd’s pie” appeared around 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, in America and Ireland regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or “mutton.”
Our families traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie recipe was born from many a cold nights at our family cottage. Often in Ireland you can find a mix package.
o 1 tablespoon olive oil
o 1 teaspoon black pepper and or salt
o 1lb – 1 1/2lb ground beef
o 1 large onion, finely diced
o 3 -4 large carrots, finely diced
o 1 cup frozen peas (or if you’re in a rush just use frozen peas and carrots)
o thyme, finely chopped to taste if you have it.
o 2 tablespoons flour or corn starch
o 1 or 2 tablespoon butter
o 1 can tomato paste
o 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
o 1 cup beef stock
o mashed potatoes made w/butter and milk (6 cups, fresh, or store bought or leftover if you’re in a rush)
o paprika and grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400°.
Sauté carrots in the olive oil until they get tender if using fresh. Then add the onions and sauté for a minute or two then add the chop meat. Season with black pepper, salt (I prefer sea salt) and thyme. Cook it all up until browned then drain fat away.
Add the butter and frozen peas. Sprinkle on flour or corn starch and mix well. Then add tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix is all very well. Then add the beef stock. (I also add a wee bit of stout but that’s our family secret…shh!)
Allow mixture to reduce down until you have a thick meaty gravy. Season to taste.
Remove mixture from the heat. Then grease up an oven proof dish about 9×13 with butter and add the meat.
Spoon the mashed potatoes over top. Your can get creative with your pattern. Add some butter and sprinkle with paprika and Parmesan cheese if using. Bake for about 30 minutes, really until the mash potato are browned on top.
Serve with some crusty bread or traditional Irish Brown Bread to mop up that yummy sauce! You can purchase brown bread or a mix at your local Irish Shop.
After you feast on traditional Irish foods on Halloween you will need to wash it down with an old drink called Lambswool. The name Lambswool is believed to be derivative of the Irish Gaelic, “La Mas Nbhal” meaning ‘Feast of the Apples. The Gaelic saying was pronounced “Lammas-ool”. This ultimately evolved into Lambswool. There are several of recipes for Lambswool that exist. But the drink basically consists of baked crushed apples(cored and crushed without skins), which are added to milk, and hot spiced ale, hard cider and or wine. Grate in nutmeg and some ginger. Add sugar according to taste.
About This Recipe
“This is a traditional cider drink that was made and enjoyed on Twelfth Night (January 16-17) in Elizabethan England. It is said that it gets its name from the whiteness of the roasted apples as they fluff out of their skins while they cook. I haven’t made it yet, but I cant let go of the recipe every time I go to clean out my recipe box.”
- 4 pints real ale ( Newcastle or similar)
- 2 -3 large apples
- 1 cup hard alcoholic cider ( such as Woodchuck or Hornsby’s)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- Preheat oven to 180°C: 350°F: Gas 4.
- Core the apples and bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes until very soft.
- Squeeze all of the pulp from the apples and discard the skins then fluff the puree with a fork.
- Heat the ale and cider with the cinnamon stick and cloves.
- Add the apple puree and sugar to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Food.com
It’s almost March 17th ….Time to make the Soda Bread !!!
I love Jane FitzGerald’s Blue Ribbon Feis Soda Bread Recipe
Traditional Irish Soda Bread
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds – optional. A friend who lives in Cork tells me that caraway seeds are strictly personal taste and are not normally used in traditional soda bread recipes.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease, then flour baking sheet. In large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and optional caraway seeds. Mix in buttermilk to form dough into ball. You may need to add a little more buttermilk. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough holds together, about 1 minute. Shape dough into a 6-inch round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch deep X across top of bread, reaching almost to edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 40 minutes.Transfer bread to rack and cool. If not serving right away, wrap loaf in tea towel to prevent it from drying out too much. If not eaten in entirety, wrap well in foil or plastic wrap to keep as moist as possible.
Irish Soda Bread Dish With Stand> http://www.theirishjewelrycompany.com/-strse-1006/Irish-Soda-Bread-Dish/Detail.bok