Irish Barmbrack with Burnt Sugar and Whiskey Syrup
Serves: 2 Loaves
For the loaves:
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 pkg dry active yeast
  • 1 Tbsp + ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter + more for brushing on the loaves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup warm brewed tea
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas, cherries)
  • 1 cup mixed citrus peel
For the burnt sugar and whiskey syrup:
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ + ½ cup water
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Irish Whiskey
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar into the warm tea. Let sit until the yeast is activated and bubbly.
  2. While you wait, heat the milk in a saucepan on the stove (do not bring to a boil; when the milk starts to steam it’s ready). Melt the 4 Tbsp of butter into the hot milk, then add the vanilla and all of the ground spices.
  3. Into the activated yeast, add the ⅓ cup of sugar and the egg. With the paddle attachment, mix these ingredients until just combined. Add the hot milk/spice mixture and give another good mix.
  4. Add the flour and salt to the wet mixture. Mix again, just briefly, with the paddle attachment, then replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook. Add the dried fruit to the dough and knead with the hook attachment for five minutes, or until the gluten is developed and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (it will be a sticky dough, so the sides of the bowl won’t be clean).
  5. Move the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean dishcloth and allow to rise until doubled; about one hour.
  6. Punch the dough down, divide into two equal portions and place each portion into a greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.
  7. Let the dough rise again until doubled (another 30-45 minutes). Preheat your oven to 400˚F. When the loaves have risen, brush the tops with some melted butter.
  8. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes. If you think the tops are browning too quickly, place a bit of tin foil lightly over the tops. The loaves are ready when they’re dark golden brown on top and sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms.
  9. While the loaves are baking, make the burnt sugar and whiskey syrup: place the ¾ cup of sugar, ¼ cup of water and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat on a medium-high stovetop. Do not stir. Boil the mixture until it’s a dark golden brown, swirling the pot occasionally. When the mixture is dark, remove from heat and immediately add ½ cup cold water and 2 Tbsp Irish whiskey. Bring the mixture back to a boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until everything is combined. Brush the hot loaves with the syrup as soon as they come out of the oven.
  10. Serve the barmbrack with hot tea and lashings of good quality butter. It’s best served warm but will last for up to five days (try it toasted or in bread pudding!).
Recipe by Food Bloggers of Canada at