3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tsp. Ground all spice
1 Tsp. cinnamon
1/8 Tsp. Kosher salt
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Cup sugar
¼ Oz. quick acting yeast, 1 packet
1 Tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
1¼ Cups milk warm
1½ Cups raisins
1 Cup golden raisins
¾ Cup candied orange peel
½ Cup glacé cherries
EGG WASH (GLAZE)
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. heavy cream or milk
1 Tsp. sugar
1) Sift the flour, all spice, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. Then, work the butter into the flour mixture using a fork until the butter pieces are small.
2) Add the 1/2 cup of sugar to the mix and combine.
3) Mix the yeast with 1 tablespoon of warm milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Stir completely. Let it stand for about 5 minutes. The yeast will become bubbly when it’s ready to use.
4) Add the yeast mixture, the additional 1 1/4 cups of warm milk and the beaten egg to the flour mixture. Knead using the dough hook of a stand mixer. You want everything well combined and the dough smooth. This will take 5-8 minutes.
5) Add all the dried fruit to the dough and mix until well incorporated. Cover the bowl of dough with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm place in the kitchen for an hour. The dough should double in size.
6) Put the dough on a floured kitchen counter or cutting board. This is the time to “hide your trinkets” (see my notes below) if you are honoring the Halloween Irish tradition.
8) Place the dough in a 9-inch round cheesecake pan with a releasable side latch and a removable bottom. (I have found this to be the easiest was to remove the bread but a standard cake pan will also work.) Cover the loaf in the baking pan with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rise again for 45 minutes. The loaf should have risen to the top of the rim of the pan. (or close to it) I have found that if it doesn’t seem to have risen enough, the job is completed in the oven and you get a really nice high standing loaf anyway…so, no worries.
10) Meanwhile, make the egg wash. Mix the egg yolk, tablespoon of cream and teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl.
11) Remove the loaf from the oven and brush the top of your bread with the egg wash. Return the bread to the oven for 3-5 minutes to finish cooking and to get that pretty glazed finish.
11) Cool in the pan for just a few minutes. Run your knife around the outside of the bread to loosen anything that might have stuck from the pan. Then unlatch the sides of the pan and remove the loaf of Brack. Remove the bottom of the pan and let cool on a rack.
12) The bread can be served warm or at room temperature. Simply cut and serve with Irish butter for a delicious taste of Ireland.
NOTES: Up until 2 weeks ago, I had never heard of Brambrack. There, I said it out loud. I initially felt like an Irish American failure …how did I miss this all these years? But I started to feel better as I checked around. No one I knew had heard of it either. But upon researching it, I’ve come to learn that this fruited bread is actually quite common in Ireland and is served trditionally at Halloween. While it is typically made at home, it is made commercially around that holiday and can be bought at grocery stores.
It is packed with a little Irish Folklore and superstition too. (Don’t you just love bread with a story?) This bread (which reminds me of a fruit cake only soooooo much better) is made around Halloween and is filled with trinkets that predict your future…or at least the coming year when found in your piece of the bread. The trinkets range from a coin (you’ll have a good financial year) to a ring (you’ll be married within the year) to a piece of cloth (you’ll be broke). In recent years, the commercially sold bracks usually just come with a plastic ring. (Some fear about people swallowing a bunch of trinkets kept production to one, single item.)
The whole tradition reminded me of the King Cakes found at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. There, they hide a plastic baby Jesus in the cake and the person that finds it in their cake slice will have good luck that year.
The fact that I had never heard of this Irish bread or the folklore behind it, made this whole experiment so much more fun. Besides finding a new Irish treat, it came with a story and was fun to make.
I made it as part of my St. Paddy’s Day menu this year and people went nuts for it. I was concerned at first that it would taste like the dreaded fruit cake we all get and give away at Christmas…lol But I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is a tasty bread (not cake). I really like it sliced, toasted and slathered with Kerry Gold butter. Served with a cup of tea and you’ll feel like you are in Ireland in no time. Definitely worth making a loaf for this holiday.
If you are looking for other St. Paddy’s Day menu ideas, check out my St. Patrick’s Day Dinner menu here.