I make this great ‘Irish Barnbrack‘ otherwise known as my Mother’s healthy Halloween fruit cake. Barnbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake made at Halloween however I rarely wait for Halloween on this one. I make it all year round. It’s free of sugar and butter and instead uses lots of dried fruit and a trick or two to give you a scrumptious healthy fruit cake that isn’t just for Halloween.
It is my Mother’s recipe. My Mother is the original ‘Green Bee’. By that I mean she appears to be a respectable middle class housewife but she is in fact an Eco minded hippie to her core….but she doesn’t know it. She always cooks from scratch and passed those skills on to me. Why eat something from a jar or a packet when you can make a more delicious version yourself for a fraction of the cost?? Well, the answer is because invariably convenience food is just that, it’s very convenient and saves time but there is a price to pay. Taste and nutritional value are lost. My mother thought, ‘then I must find the simplest and quickest ways to cook as time costs money’!
When I was a small child she was making her own muesli. In Dublin in the 1970’s, muesli eaters were a rare enough breed so to be making your own was so akin to being just plain odd. My Mother didn’t shout about it but quietly made large vats of the stuff which we (the kids) occasionally ate when the cornflakes or Weetabix were running low. All meals and desserts were made from scratch apart from the occasional Angel Delight . Tissue and wrapping paper was ironed and re-used. Vegetables and herbs were grown in the garden and we never took the car if we could walk or cycle. To be fair, my Mum couldn’t drive so the car was only driven when my Dad came home from work. My Parent’s are a product of the 2nd world war where rationing was part of every day life. Factory farming hadn’t reared it’s ugly head and to cap it all Ireland in the 1950’s was gripped by a deep and dark depression. Even those who had money had a different approach to consumption. Never throw something away that can be fixed or re-used and if you want rid of something re-home it instead of sending it to landfill. I am a great fan of websites that are dedicated to this; Jumbletown. is my favourite one and there are also plenty of Facebook pages that offer a similar service.
In the spirit of all things traditional give this recipe a go. It couldn’t be easier and how pleased will my Mother be!?!
Healthy Halloween Brack
Ingredients:12 oz Dried fruit (califiornian raisins, cranberries, dried figs,sultatnans are my favourite mix but it’s your choice)1 Mug of Tea in which the fruit is steeped overnight (soak in a herbal fruit tea for added flavour)8 ozs of sifted Self Raising Flour (wholemeal also works well with 1 teaspoon of baking powder)1 Egg, lightly beaten with a fork2 teaspoons mixed spice plus 1 teaspoon of n/meg or cinnamonMethod:Soak the dried fruit in the tea overnight (8 hours)Place in a mixing bowl and add the sifted flour, spices, egg and mix wellFill the loaf tin with the mixture and add 3 good sized coins (a Euro or 2 Euro coin are perfect) wrapped well in greaeproof paper and hide within the mixture. This is a great Halloween Tradition and makes eating Brack even more exciting!Place in the middle of the oven.Cook for 1 hour at 180 degrees in a greased 10″ x 5′ Loaf tin.Gently remove from the tin and allow to cool fully before slicing.