Samhain was the Celtic great festival of fire and feasting and today it is known as Halloween and yes it all started in Ireland . Samhain marks the change of seasons and the beginning of the dark months . Samhain main recipes is based around turnips, nuts, gourds and apples, apple cider, and ale . Once the harvest work was complete , the tradition was for the village to came together to feast and to tell stories of the past and of the future .
The main Halloween foods were based around potato dishes like champ , which is mashed potatoes with spring onion. They also enjoyed colcannon which is mashed potatoes and kale or green cabbage meal , and of course there was Boxty which is potato pancakes made with raw potatoes and buttermilk which is pan-fried .Other common foods were full of fruit and nuts and of course we have to mention barmbrack bread which is loved by everyone on the island of Ireland around Halloween .
IRISH HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS
It’s interesting to learn that many of the traditions that we all think of as part of American Halloween have their roots in Irish Halloween traditions. So how did holloween become part of American culture ? well Irish immigrants to the US brought these fantastic traditions to America, and so an Irish tradition became part of the mainstream of American culture!
The famous Trick or treating originally comes when poor Irish children who went door to door to request money and food. The children would sing prayers and in reward they would get soul cake which is a kind of bread with lots of fruits. Turnip Lanterns were also very famous in Irish Halloween tradition. These lanterns were carved from turnips or even large potatoes.
SLICE OF BARMBRACK TELLS YOUR FORTUNE
In Ireland the traditional fruity loaf is known as Barmbrack, it's name came from the Irish " bairin breac" which translates as speckled loaf. Barmbrack is eaten all year round, however at Halloween magic is added to this bread and fortune telling is added to the mix. The fruits in barnbrack are traditionally soaked in tea and whiskey to create the rich flavour, and the tea is of course Mrs Doyle's favourite part of Holloween.
Traditionally Irish homes would always have the smell of baking bread and barmbrack cooking , usually over an open fire in the kitchen or living room . At its basic Barmbrack is simply a dried fruit-studded bread, but it has magic powers around holloween ! The Irish Halloween barmbrack tradition is that everyone gets a small slice, however you need to careful when biting into it, as you might find that something has been hidden inside the bread that can tell your future for the coming year !
You might find perhaps a ring, so expect the discovery of a true love and even a future wedding, alas if you are unlucky and find a thimble, this predicts that you will never marry, and a button predicts bachelorhood for the men. For those who find a coin this is a prediction that they might get rich in the coming year!
So how do you make this magical bread , well Mrs Doyle's traditional Irish Barmbrack with a nice cup of Irish tea is of course the best recipe and being the decent sort she has written it all out for us all to make
HOW TO MAKE IRISH BARMBRACK FOR HALLOWEEN
Baking Barmbrack is an Irish Halloween tradition and so you just have to include some charms to make your barmbrack magical .
Mrs Doyle's Barmbrack recipe takes 3.5 hours to make which includes resting and cooking time, to enjoy it please serve it straight from the oven
- warm Mrs Doyle's Irish tea , which should be enough to cover the sultanas
- a 350g (1½ cups) sultanas
- 50ml (¼ cup) Bushmills whiskey
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 450g around 2 cups, strong bread flour
- salt, pinch
- 15g (1tbsp) dried yeast
- one nice beaten egg
- salt just a little pinch
- 280ml room temperature of creamy milk
- 50g around 3½tbsp, Irish unsalted butter
- 50g sugar
- teaspoon of Irish butter
- 1 table spoon ground cinnamon
- ½ table spoon ground mixed spice
- Soak the sultanas in the Irish whiskey, lemon juice and Mrs Doyle's hot tea for around 30-45 minutes, then drain off the liquid.
- How to make the dough, simply put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with a big wooden spoon.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface with your hands for five to six minutes.
- Put the dough in a bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for about 1 hour, until the mixture has risen and fills the total bowl.
- Knead the dough again on a floured surface, add soaked fruit until spread throughout the mixture.
- Place it in a 20-23cm buttered cake tin then cover with a damp tea towel.
- Leave about 20 minutes until the mixture rises up to the top of the tin.
- Bake for 50 minutes in an oven preheated to around 200C.
- Making the topping simply cream the butter and spices together until soft ,
- Lastly now remove the barmbrack from the oven and right away spread spiced butter on top and leave to cool.