Irish Tea Bread Recipe

Make Barmbrack for St. Patrick's Day

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Make Barmbrack, or Irish tea bread, this St. Patrick's Day! This loaf was made with dried blueberries rather than raisins.A more traditional barmbrack, made with raisins.
Make Barmbrack, or Irish tea bread, this St. Patrick's Day! This loaf was made with dried blueberries rather than raisins.
Make Barmbrack, or Irish tea bread, this St. Patrick's Day! This loaf was made with dried blueberries rather than raisins. | Source
A more traditional barmbrack, made with raisins.
A more traditional barmbrack, made with raisins. | Source

Irish Tea Bread Ratings

5 stars from 1 rating of Irish Tea Bread

Cook Barmbrack with Kids: Irish Tea Bread

The traditional Irish bread called "barmbrack" is made from soaking dried fruits in tea, adding flour, an egg, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and enjoying one of the most delicious Irish recipes in existence.

Barmbrack (also known as bran brack) comes from the Irish Báirín Breac, literally: "speckled bread." The bread has a light, sweet flavor, makes excellent toast, and is a perfect introduction to Irish cuisine for children on St. Patrick's Day.

The bread was actually a traditional Halloween (Samhain) bread, baked with various objects to foretell future marriages, wealth, and relationships. The original bread was baked with yeast skimmed from the beer-making process, though the modern "Irish tea bread" does not contain yeast. Some recipes contain alcohol (such as brandy or Irish whiskey), but this recipe omits all alcohol to keep the recipe kid-friendly.

Do not place symbolic objects in the Irish Tea Bread when making this recipe with children. The objects present a choking hazard - the information in this summary is meant for educational purposes only.

Barmbrack Objects and Symbolism

Object
Meaning
Coin
Wealth in the coming year.
Pea
The person who gets the pea will not get married this year.
Cloth
Poverty or bad luck.
Stick
The person with the stick will have difficult relationships in the coming year.
Ring
The person who finds the ring will get married within the year.

Irish Tea Bread Ingredients

Barmbrack (Irish Tea Bread) must be started the day before you wish to make the bread. The dried fruit must sit in the tea overnight prior to baking the bread.

  • 2 cups raisins (other dried fruit may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup candied peel (orange or lemon) OPTIONAL
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 fluid oz. hot tea
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Overnight Preparation

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Add the sugar to the tea. Add raisins (and any other dried fruit/candied peel)  to the sugar and tea.Stir the mixture thoroughly, refrigerate, and let sit overnight.
Add the sugar to the tea.
Add the sugar to the tea. | Source
Add raisins (and any other dried fruit/candied peel)  to the sugar and tea.
Add raisins (and any other dried fruit/candied peel) to the sugar and tea. | Source
Stir the mixture thoroughly, refrigerate, and let sit overnight.
Stir the mixture thoroughly, refrigerate, and let sit overnight. | Source

Soak the Raisins.

  1. Have the child measure out 2 cups of raisins and place them in a bowl.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup candied peel (if using) and add it to the bowl.
  3. Measure 1 cup of brown sugar and add it to the bowl.
  4. An adult should heat water to boiling and brew 10 ounces of strong tea.
  5. Pour the hot tea over the raisins, cover, refrigerate, and allow the raisins to steep in the tea overnight.

Note: I always place the tea soaked raisins in the refrigerator overnight. Leaving the sugary tea mixture on the counter will allow bacteria to grow. Placing the solution in the refrigerator is basic food safety, as the colder temperatures prevent bacterial growth. Talk to your children about safe food preparation! Even though our son is only four years old, he understands that the refrigerator stops germs from growing.

Make Irish Tea Bread Dough

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Mix the wet ingredients (egg, milk, and tea-soaked raisins) in a large bowl.Mix the dry ingredients in a second bowl.Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.Stir until the batter is combined.
Mix the wet ingredients (egg, milk, and tea-soaked raisins) in a large bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients (egg, milk, and tea-soaked raisins) in a large bowl. | Source
Mix the dry ingredients in a second bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients in a second bowl. | Source
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. | Source
Stir until the batter is combined.
Stir until the batter is combined. | Source

Make the Dough: Day 2

Mix the Wet Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Whisk the egg with 2 tbsp milk in a large bowl.
  3. Add the tea-soaked raisins to the eggs.
  4. Stir the eggs and tea-soaked raisins together.

Mix the Dry Ingredients

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the Flour to the Wet Ingredients

Gently pour the flour mixture into the bowl containing the tea,raisins, and egg mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Bake the Irish Tea Bread

Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper, or simply use some cooking spray to grease the pan. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake the Irish Tea Bread loaf in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the bread. The bread should bounce back when pressed in the center (no indentation should remain).

Remove the bread from the oven and immediately loosen the bread from the pan with a butter knife or spatula. Cool the bread on a wire rack. Slice the bread and enjoy it with a hot cup of tea (or hot cocoa, for the younger set)!

Bake the Bread

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Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.Irish Tea Bread in a loaf pan.Bake the bread at 325F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.Cool on a wire rack.
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. | Source
Irish Tea Bread in a loaf pan.
Irish Tea Bread in a loaf pan. | Source
Bake the bread at 325F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
Bake the bread at 325F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. | Source
Cool on a wire rack.
Cool on a wire rack. | Source

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Comments 16 comments

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Thanks for another great recipe.

PS-Your little boy is ADORABLE.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Hyphenbird (on both accounts)! The Q's on his shirt were because it was "Q" week at school (letter of the week) and he wouldn't let me take them off. He loves cooking with me!


alipuckett profile image

alipuckett 4 years ago

Tea bread! I've never heard of it before, but it sounds amazing. Thank you!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

It is really good! You can vary the dried fruit as you desire - we have used both raisins and dried blueberries!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Perfect for St. Patrick's Day! Thanks for sharing. Your boys are such great kitchen helpers.


Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 4 years ago from Oakland, CA

Oh my goodness. Yum. I love this stuff! Curious to try your recipe.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Your children must be great chefs! This recipe is similar to a Mexican bread dish we make at home. I can almost taste your bread and it is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

randomcreative, my boys LOVE helping in the kitchen. I can hardly get the mixer out before they come running!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

The bread is really good, teaches12345 - have you written an article about your Mexican bread dish? I'd love to see it!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

I've never heard of this before and I loved the history that you gave with it. Your little guy is such a cutie! He looks like he takes his job very seriously! Thanks for the recipe, I'll have to give it a try.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Maddie! It is really good - you can even leave the fruit out if you want a plain tea bread!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Cara - we definitely think he's cute! He really loves cooking, and this one was easy enough for him to do. I did crack the egg for him, but he did almost everything else!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

leahlefler, I have not written it but will certainly do so this month. Maybe we can set out a buffet for readers! Thanks for the suggestion.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Definitely write it up - I LOVE bread recipes (though my waistline may not agree, haha)!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Leah,

I think that it is wonderful that your son is learning to cook at a young age. This will be of benefit to him all his life....not just the cooking skills, but learning about good food, food safety, etc. This Irish tea bread sounds really good! Will have to give it a try sometime. Your little boy is so cute! UUI votes and will share.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Peggy! My little guy does love to cook - both of my boys ask to help out in the kitchen. I am happy that they are learning an important skill for their future independence and for their health. Cooking also encourages them to try new (and healthy) food!

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