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Halloween Barmbrack

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

No other recipe among all my recipes has been used longer than this one. I've been baking Halloween Barmbrack for twenty one years now (original recipe comes from this book). Well, except two years ago, when I had pneumonia. Anyway, the Gaelic name for this cake is báirín breac, or ‘speckled loaf,’ referring to the speckles of fruit in the cake. Traditionally, Barmbrack is eaten at Halloween. Custom has it to bake small objects into the cake, acting as a kind of fortune telling (a ring for soon to be married, a thimble for the opposite, a pea for poverty, a coin for fortune, a stick for a journey). This is a sourdough version of the recipe, but feel free to use yeast, if you prefer. I usually soak the candied fruit in rum the night before. Don't worry, the alcohol will evaporate during baking.

Sourdough Halloween Barmbrack


4 cups spelt flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup spelt sourdough

2 cups raisins

1 cup candied fruit

half a tsp cinnamon

half a tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp butter

200 ml milk (I used almond milk)

1 egg

half tsp salt

A ring, a pea, a coin, a stick, a thimble, all wrapped separately in parchment paper.


1. The night before baking, soak the dried/ candied fruit, feed the sourdough starter.

2. Prepare all ingredients. Combine flour with salt, sugar, sourdough, egg and spices. Add milk and butter.

3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and put the dough onto it. Knead for couple of minutes. Cover the bowl with a wrap and let proof at room temperature for couple of hours.

4. Add raisins and candied fruit, turn the dough twice, add the fortune telling objects inside the dough.

5. Cover and let proof for one hour.

6. Preheat the oven with the baking sheet to 220 C, when ready, put the dough onto it, bake for 10 min. Lower to 200 C and bake for 20 min (depends on your oven).

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