Give a little nod to the Irish with this traditional Irish Barmbrack Bread with Honey Butter. Filled with tea-soaked raisins and finished with a swipe of sweet homemade honey butter.
With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, I have Irish on my mind. Truth be told, I’m not even a tiny bit Irish myself, but like so many, I’m game to be Irish in spirit any time and adopt many of their wonderful rustic and comforting foods .This bread is the perfect way to be celebrate the Irish!
Traditionally, the Irish serve Barmbrack at Halloween, but I don’t think they’d mind if we all just enjoy it year round. This rustic bread is baked as one large round loaf and is filled with raisins that have been soaked in tea overnight before being added to the bread. The result is a lovely, lightly sweet and fruity bread that is great eaten out of hand or especially nice toasted. The honey butter compliments it perfectly and is so easy to whip up.
Cook’s Notes for Irish Barmbrack Bread with Honey Butter
This loaf is nice with any raisins. I used half sultanas and then some golden raisins and some green raisins. If you are Canadian, pop in to the Bulk Barn to pick up a variety of just what you need.
I baked my bread in my cast iron skillet, which I would highly recommend, if you have one. Mine is 8-inches in diameter on the bottom. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, any oven-proof round baking pan around 8 or 9 inches will work.
Be sure to check the loaf around the 20 minute mark of baking and if nicely browned, loosely cover the top with tin foil for the last bit of baking, so the loaf doesn’t get too brown on top.
Irish Barmbrack Bread with Honey Butter
- 2 cups raisins I used 1 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup green raisins
- 2 cups strong brewed black tea
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active or instant yeast
- 4 Tbsp butter cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg beaten
- 3 Tbsp salted butter at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp liquid honey
Brew 2 cups of hot tea and allow to cool to lukewarm. Add tea to a a medium glass bowl. Add the raisins, stir and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to soak on the counter overnight.
*If using instant yeast, simply add it in with the flour mixture, as detailed below. If using dry active yeast, add yeast to lukewarm/cooled milk and allow to proof a few minutes before adding to dough.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine 4 cups of the flour, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and yeast. With a pastry cutter or your fingers (or with the paddle attachment on your mixer), work in the butter in to the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave, heat the milk to 110° if using dry active yeast or 120° for instant yeast. Beat the egg into the milk and then stir into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon or switch to the kneading hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand or with the kneading hook until dough starts to come together (adding more flour in small increments, as necessary). Drain the raisins and add to the dough. (I find a sprinkling of flour on to the raisins help them to incorporate in to the dough more easily). Knead in the raisins, adding a bit more flour as necessary, until you have a smooth dough that is not sticky.
Remove dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size.
Grease an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan and pre-heat oven to 400° F.
Turn risen dough out on to a floured surface. Press lightly to de-gas, then form in to a round by pinching the dough underneath. Place dough round in to prepared pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes more.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then check the bread. If it is nicely browned, cover top loosely with a piece of tinfoil, then continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until an internal temperature of about 195°.35-40 Let cool completely before cutting into slices. Serve spread with butter or honey butter.
For honey butter: combine ingredients in a small bowl and stir vigorously until well combined.