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Irish Tea Bread Recipe
Make Barmbrack for St. Patrick's DayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Irish Tea Bread Ratings
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
Wealth in the coming year.
The person who gets the pea will not get married this year.
Poverty or bad luck.
The person with the stick will have difficult relationships in the coming year.
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 PreparationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Soak the Raisins.
- Have the child measure out 2 cups of raisins and place them in a bowl.
- Measure 1/2 cup candied peel (if using) and add it to the bowl.
- Measure 1 cup of brown sugar and add it to the bowl.
- An adult should heat water to boiling and brew 10 ounces of strong tea.
- 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 DoughClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make the Dough: Day 2
Mix the Wet Ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Whisk the egg with 2 tbsp milk in a large bowl.
- Add the tea-soaked raisins to the eggs.
- 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)!