Irish Barmbrack for Halloween / Samhain

On Halloween in Ireland, there is merriment and good food, principally among them, Barmbrack (sometimes also called barnbrack). Modern Halloween celebrations are actually descended from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. This sweet bread/cake hybrid is dotted with raisins (sometimes soaked in liquor or tea) and flavored with autumnal spices like cloves and nutmeg. However, the Barmbrack also presents a twist. Much like a French King Cake, there are also little trinkets baked into the bread that have special meanings: a ring for an impending marriage, a pea for no marriage, a stick for fighting, a coin for luck, and a rag for a poor year. Whatever charm you get in your slice supposedly tells you what kind of luck to expect for the new year, though many people only put positive charms in the bread nowadays (who would want to find a rag in a piece of bread anyway?!). You can find a classic recipe from One Perfect Bite and Edible Ireland has a version with tea.

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