Happy Halloween!! Vegan Irish Stylie!! ;-)
So, a slight change from my previous Creepy Halloween Food post from a couple years back ;-)
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish Halloween yeast bread made with raisins and sultanas, slightly sweet and spiced with mixed spice and so very yummy. Traditionally various objects were baked into the brack and used to tell ones fortune: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring. Since we have moved back to Ireland my husband has been pretty outraged that the barmbrack for sale in the shops have only carried the ring. In his day all the items were there and I got it into my head to not only make one but to make it vegan (of course) and add ALL the items, just for him.
Then I read what the pieces mean if you were to find one:
The Pea - the person would not marry
The Cloth - the person would have bad luck or would be poor
The Coin - the person would have good fortune or be wealthy
The Ring - the person would wed within the year
The Stick - "to beat one's wife with" (would have an unhappy marriage) :-O
Yes, you read that last one right, suddenly it became apparent why the modern ones just go with the ring! Blimey. I also decided that it would be much easier to just shove a ring in there than all the other stuff. So apologies to my husband who was hoping for a proper traditional "Báirín Breac" but I think that stick is best left out of the bread ;-) I was also not very comfortable baking a ring in there so I inserted a very well washed plain old ring of mine deep into the bread after it baked and cooled with a wooden skewer.
Vegan Barmbrack: makes one large loaf
500ml strong black tea
250ml dairy free milk, I use Kara Coconut Milk
100g vegan butter
520g - 600g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 package instant yeast
Soak the raisins and sultanas in the tea for at least 1 hour, it can even be left overnight.
In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly, if you have a thermometer you want it to be between 120F and 130F. If you don't have a thermometer you want it to be hand hot, if you stick your finger in it's hot but you can leave it in there comfortably.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, spice and yeast and give it a whisk. Pour in the milk/butter mixture then with the dough hook attached knead for 5 - 8 minutes until you have a ball of dough, slightly sticky. Do the same if kneading by hand then transfer to a floured surface.
Drain the fruit well and add to the dough a small amount at a time kneading the fruit in. Continue until all the fruit is added, it may seem like it won't all go in but just keep at it. Meanwhile keep adding more flour when it gets sticky. Once all the fruit is added and you have a nice non-sticky ball of dough transfer to a greased bowl, grease the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with cling film and place in a warm place to double in bulk, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Give it a few more kneads, shape into a large flatish ball then place in a greased 8" cake pan. Loosely cover the surface with greased cling film and place in a warm place again for about 1/2 hour until risen slightly again, it should fill out the pan.
Preheat the oven to 200C and pop the bread in. Bake for between 35 - 45 minutes, or until golden brown, risen and it should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then insert the ring (if using) with a wooden skewer then slice and serve with vegan butter. It's also beautiful lightly toasted the next day, spread with butter for breakfast with a nice mug of tea. :-)