Halloween Traditions: Barmbracks in Ireland

Whereas the Christmas season in the United States brings about the passing on of fruit bread, inhabitants in Ireland pass along fruit bread during the Halloween holiday. This bread is called barmbrack. This yeasted bread consisted of raisins, white flour and sugar (just to name a few ingredients). Popular as an accompaniment with afternoon tea, it is often toasted and saturated with butter. Today, you will even find barmbracks in Ireland being made with a toy ring hidden within its contents.


It is usually customary for each family member to get a piece. Inside the fruit bread, there are various items included inside. Attached to each item is a symbolic or significant belief. Some of the things you may find inside the bread include a rag scrap, coin and ring.
  Other bread variations included a pea and a stick. The cutting of the barmbrack is quite special when it comes to uncovering these items.


If you find the rag in your slice of bread, then you may suffer a few financial ups and downs throughout the year. A slice of bread possessing the coin (which is most often a silver sixpence) and you may find successful endeavors occurring in your life. A coin in your piece of bread means that you will enjoy a lengthy period of happiness or you may find romance in the near future.


If you are curious to enjoy a slice of this Halloween tradition associated with Ireland, you can always create your own, which can become a practice of your own. You may even find it fun to do during any time of the year, as well as start an entertaining tradition for the New Year. Below you will find a recipe taken from the Wikipedia post for Barmbrack:


Barmbrack Bread




250 g of white flour

15g of dried baker’s yeast

50 g of fine white sugar

1 dl of warm milk

Half a teaspoon of allspice or mixed cinnamon and nutmeg

Half a teaspoon of salt

1 small egg

50g of unsalted butter

50g of mixed peel

60g of mixed raisins and sultanas




“The points in italics are optional.


Soak the dried fruit overnight in weak tea, for an authentic taste!


Warm the milk a little, then stir the yeast and one teaspoon of the sugar into two tablespoonfuls of the milk, and let rise for ten minutes.


Melt the butter and let it cool.


Sift the flour, the allspice and the salt into a bowl, and add the rest of the sugar. Pour in the rest of the milk, and the yeast mixture as before.


Beat the egg with a fork, mix with the butter, add to the bowl, stir a little, and knead the mixture for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl. Cover with a wet cloth and let rise in a warm place for one hour.


Dry the mixed peel and fruit, chop the mixed peel up into small sections, roll in a little flour,

add the mixed peel and the fruit and knead the mixture vigorously.


Butter a baking tin and spread the mixture evenly into it. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.


Heat the oven to 220°C, put the mixture in to bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190 °C and bake a little longer.


Let the barmbrack repose for 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven before extracting it from the tin, and allow to cool thoroughly before cutting. Serve with tea and butter”