Sunday, October 30, 2011

Irish Barmbrack recipe

In Ireland, this Halloween bread traditionally contained various objects baked into it and was used as a sort of divination game. Here is a recipe without the choking hazzards.

2 C black tea
1 C raisins
1 C currrants
1 C lukewarm milk
1 (1/4-ounce) package of active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
3 to 3 1/2 C white flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/3 C butter, softened

Soak the tea, raisins and currants for at least one hour but, preferably overnight. This will get them nice and plump.
Mix the yeast, warm milk and the 2 tsp of sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and spices). Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, beaten egg and butter.
Stir to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet or a little more milk if it is too dry.
Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky.
Drain the dried fruit and knead a little at a time into the dough until all the fruit has been incorporated.
Remove the dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch down to deflate. Knead lightly for 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and placed in a buttered 8-inch cake pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a rack and cool.

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