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.
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
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.