RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Halloween

Tropical Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake. It’s usually associated with Halloween, although I think it can be eaten any time of the year!

It’s a really simple bake, a cross between cake and bread. It has no butter or oil in it. The moist flavour comes from soaking dried fruit in tea. Irish whiskey is also included in the soak for an added kick!

My version is “tropical” because I substituted rum for whiskey, and I added pineapple to the dried fruit. And some cream cheese frosting made it a bit more luxurious.

Ingredients

375g mixed dried fruit

100g tinned pineapple, cut into small pieces

50ml dark rum

250ml cold tea

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

125g brown sugar

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 free range egg

Cream cheese frosting

60g light cream cheese *

30g softened butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pineapple juice

150g icing sugar

Glacé or tinned pineapple for decoration

Method

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the rum and cold tea. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Grease a 20 or 22cm square cake tin and line base with baking paper. Or you could use the more traditional loaf tin – grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

I used a square cake tin for my version as I was able to cut the barmbrack into more pieces.

Mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices in a large bowl. Break in the egg and mix with a wooden spoon.

Add the tea and rum liquid a tablespoon at a time. You may not need all of it – add enough to make a fairly wet dough. But don’t add so much that you end up with soup!

Stir in the mixed fruit and pineapple until everything is combined. Spoon the batter into the lined tin, and put in the preheated oven.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Wrap in cling film and aluminium foil and leave for 1-2 days. The flavour matures over a couple of days.

Unwrap the cake. You could serve as is, with lashings of butter which is traditional, or you could make a cream cheese frosting.

Put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and pineapple juice in an electric mixer, or even in a food processor. Mix or process until well combined.

Add the icing sugar gradually, beating until all is combined.

Spread the icing liberally over the barmbrack and decorate with pieces of glacé or tinned pineapple.

The barmbrack will keep well for a few days.

*you could use normal cream cheese not the light version – if so, you would need less icing sugar. Just add enough icing sugar to make a smooth icing.

Halloween Soul Cakes

This year I baked my Soul Cakes early to be ready for Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. They were traditionally made to be handed out on these special days.

“The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, 

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul, 

And three for Him that made us all.”

The little cakes are actually more like biscuits, and are delicious as they are full of spice and sultanas. They have a cross marked on the top too.

This batch of Soul Cakes are a little rough and ready! But taste great because of the spices.

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened 

100g caster sugar 

2 free-range egg yolks 

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron (or more if necessary)

Zest of an orange

2 tbs milk 

100g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy.

Sift the flour and spices, including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or until you want to bake the cakes.

Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake.

Great eaten warm straight from the oven. The soul cakes can be frozen too, but eat on the traditional days if possible!

%d bloggers like this: