I took the Irish tradition of Barm Brack for granted right into my adult years. It wasn't until I left for University in the UK at the age of 19 that I discovered nobody there knew what on earth I was referring to when I verbally craved a slice nearing Halloween!
So here I share with you a recipe and a little about the tradition. The main thing is that this cake is great fun! How so? Well hidden inside, baked into the cake, are a number of trinkets. Each represents something different, the cake is a bit like a giant fortune cookie. The baker wraps each item in greaseproof paper and adds them to the dough before cooking. Children watch intently as the slices are cut and listen for any telltale metallic clinks made by the knife! Mothers usher the children out of the kitchen and then disguise any protruding objects with extra thick layers of butter and jam! Slices are handed out, no close up examinations are allowed before choosing and the host must have a poker face not to give away any inside information!!!
The trinkets include ;
a ring - predicting marriage within the year
a coin - wealth
piece of rag - poverty
thimble - batchelorette
button - batchelor
In our house I just put in a Euro coin for each child, and perhaps a cheap (non toxic!) ring if I can get my hands on one, and the rag.
And now for the recipe, which to be honest, is of little importance in comparison to the excitement of getting 'the ring' and the money, the rag is the boobie prize!
1 lb (454g) flour
6 oz (170g) sugar
1 lb (454g) raisins
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp all spice/mixed spice
A pinch of salt
A mug of cooled black tea
Soaking the raisins overnight in the tea.
Wrap each trinket in greaseproof paper.
The following day, add the sugar, milk and egg to the raisins (the tea will have mostly soaked into the fruit). Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix gently. Stir in the wrapped trinkets and try to hide them evenly throughout the mix. Use a 7" round baking tin at 180C (350°F) for 80 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, cut and spread with butter and jam amid great excitement! You just have time to get baking your Barm Brack in time for Wednesday.