Speckled yeast bread – barm brack

There must be almost as many recipes for barm brack as there are people who love eating it – or at least as there are mums of people who love eating it. Barm in this case comes from an old word for ‘yeast’ – when i first went to Manchester I wondered what barm cakes were… not cakes at all but flattened bread rolls/buns/teacakes/muffins/baps – and brack is not the same as brackish which is rather nasty water, brack merely comes from a word meaning speckled because the barmbrack is speckeld with dried fruit.

Here’s my recipe:

Barm Brack

  • ¼ pt slightly tepid milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh yeast
  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1½ oz butter
  • 6 oz mixed dried fruit
  • 2 oz extra caster sugar
  1. add the yeast and the 1 tsp sugar to the milk and leave it to froth
  2. sieve together the flour, 2 oz sugar and spice and rub in the butter
  3. make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and the egg
  4. beat well for about 10 mins until you have a nice dough
  5. add the fruit and the salt, and knead well in by hand
  6. cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise until it’s doubled in size
  7. knock back and knead lightly
  8. place in a greased 7 in round cake tin and leave it to rise again for about 30 mins
  9. bake near the top of a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C for about 45 minutes
  10. glaze the cooked loaf  with a syrup made from 2 more tsp sugar and 3 tsp boiling water

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