Barm Brack (barmbrack) – Irish Tea Loaf

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Barm Brack is an Irish Tea Loaf.  It is most often eaten, I  understand, at Halloween.  However I love to eat a cake rich in fruit at almost any time.  It is just something that goes so well with a cup of tea.  The main reason for doing this recipe now is simply to show how simple it is to make a delicious cake with relatively few ingredients, most of which are likely to be in people’s cupboards already.
It is also a recipe which can be adapted.  So for instance the dried fruit can be interchanged with whatever a person may have available.  Indeed some chopped nuts could be included too.  The amount of fruit could be lowered too, if the full amount isn’t available.  That would still make a very good cake.  Similarly the spices(mixed spice in my case) can be varied to a particular taste or what is on hand.  So too with the sugar, I used soft light brown sugar,  but dark, or granulated or caster sugar would work too, though the flavour would be changed a little.

The other thing to consider in the liquid.  I soaked my fruit in cold black tea(1 1/4 cups) but if preferred a little of that can be swapped out for some whiskey.  I personally don’t like whiskey(notice the Irish spelling as this is an Irish loaf cake).

My Barm Brack baked very well, and after an hour I decided that it had firmed up enough so I took it out of the oven.  But depending on how much liquid is used in the batter the baking time can vary, so a little longer may be required in some instances.

Once cooled for about 15 minutes I removed it from the tin and allowed it to cool completely.  Then I tasted it and I must say it was very good indeed.  I am aware, however, that many people wrap the cake in foil and then plastic wrap and store it in an airtight tin for a couple of days before having the first taste, so that is something you may wish to consider, if you can wait that long.

Barm Brack – Irish Tea Loaf
Barm Brack – Irish Tea Loaf – Video

  • 225g(1 1/2 cup+1 tsp) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 375g(2 3/4 cups) dried mixed fruit(or with some nuts and fruit of your choice)
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cups)cold black tea(or 250ml tea and 50ml whiskey)
  • 125g(1/2 cup + 2tbsp) soft light brown sugar( granulated or caster would be fine too)
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA), beaten
  • 1 tsp mixed spice(or a combination of your favourite spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves)


  1. Place the fruit into a bowl and pour in the tea(and whiskey if using) and cover then allow to soak for at least 6 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  3. Grease and line a 900g(2lb) loaf tin.
  4. Strain the liquid from the soaking fruit.
  5. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices into a bowl and mix to combine.
  6. Add the egg and about half of the retained liquid, then start to mix to form a batter.
  7. Add more of the liquid, in small amounts until you have a fairly wet batter(you may not need all the liquid).
  8. Stir in the strained fruit, until fully combined.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  10. Bake in the oven for 60 – 75 minutes, until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch.  The wetter the batter the more time it is likely to take to bake.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.  Then place on a wire rack to cool completely.


  1. Hi Geoff where have you been all my life😁😁 I am the worst Baker in the world, but I have just made the Irish tea bread😋😋😋😋 so easy and delicious a real first for me, thanks very much, Sue

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