I have TWO derivations of this name and have NO idea which is correct:
1. In Northern Ireland and in the Republic, brack is the Celtic word for salt and is used to mean "bread". Barm brack is leavened bread, the word, barm meaning yeast.
2. The term barmbrack for an Irish fruit loaf or cake does not derive from barm or leaven. It is a corruption of the Irish word aran breac (Speckled Bread).
If anyone can straighten out which definition is correct, please let me know. I also read that the Irish traditional serve barmbrak at Halloween with the ring, silver coin and a button baked inside (the button signifying "single blessedness" whatever that might be). Frankly, I doubt all of these "bake it inside" stories...if they were true, Irish dentists would ALWAYS be busy on the day after Halloween, because alot of Irish folk would have broken teeth after having coins and rings stuck in every item on the table!
2 1/2 cups mixed dry fruit (currants, dark and golden raisins)
1 cup boiling black tea
1 tsp. mixed spice (equal amounts of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allpice, and mace)
4 tsp. marmalade
1 heaping cup superfine granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
Place the dried fruit in a bowl, cover with the hot tea and let soak overnight. The next day, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Pour the batter into a greased 7" square pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and serve buttered with tea.
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