Many say that the origin of Halloween lays in Ireland. Samhain (pronounced Sow – in) is the Irish festival of the dead. Samhain also welcomes in the winter cold, celebrates the end of the harvest, and demarcates the spiritual New Year for many. Samhain is now celebrated as Halloween, and most Irish families celebrate the day like their American peers (with costumes and trick or treating). Halloween being an Irish festival seems only natural to me – a country that still walks a line between Christianity and belief in the ‘little people’ is well suited for a mysterious night when the poor souls of the dead are close. Believers of Samhain in Ireland, like many cultures, cover mirrors so the dead can’t enter the world through them. Animals are sprinkled with holy water to protect them. Water and bread are left out to ensure any spirits who make it into the world are warmly greeted.
One less ominous Samhain tradition is Halloween Barmbrack, an Irish fruit bread baked with trinkets inside. I couldn’t pick just one barmbrack recipe to share – there are so many tasty versions out there. Instead, I curated a list of the best Halloween Barmbrack recipes; your family can begin creating their own Halloween tradition.
One thing that remains the same throughout the recipes is the baked in treats – from rings to matchsticks, getting a parchment-wrapped surprise is a lovely way to celebrate Halloween.
Have your own barmbrack recipe that isn’t shared here? Let us know in the
Jess of La Domestique shows us how to make traditional barmbrack in a circular pan, just like her husband’s mother used to create. She also shares a lovely story of the barmbrack. Gorgeous photos, easy recipe and great discussion about the traditions of the bread.
Who better to show us how to make Irish bread than and Irish lad himself? Donal shares his recipe for traditional barmbrack. It includes soaking the dough is whiskey and tea overnight, yum! There is also a video for those of us who could use some extra guidance.
This recipe calls for lots of specific fruit, and is potentially the most fruit heavy of the the bracks I’m sharing. Another great story of finding the special treats in the bread accompanies this recipe.
This version of barmbrack looks long and complicated at first, but it’s actually a less time-consuming option. Instead of using yeast (and waiting for it to rise) this brack is made with self-rising flour. The page also includes a recipe for homemade candied peel, which is used in many of the barmbracks.
This simple recipe recommends cooking the barmbrack in a Bundt pan, and suggests enjoying it more like a cake than bread. Instead of relying on fruit alone, lemon marmalade stands in for some extra flavor. I do recommend wrapping any trinkets before baking them in – wouldn’t want anyone to miss their prize while enjoying their cake!