Gluten-Free Irish Barmbrack is a dense and chewy tea loaf packed with dried fruit and warm spices. It’s incredibly satisfying and traditionally served toasted and spread with butter alongside a cup of tea. Vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free.
What is Barmbrack?
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish sweet bread dotted with raisins and other dried fruits soaked in tea. The tea soaked fruit is baked into a sweet dough. Barmbrack is sweeter than bread but isn’t quite as sweet as cake.
You might also see barmbrack referred to as bairín breac, which comes from the Irish bairín meaning loaf, and breac meaning speckled.
Barmbrack is similar to bara brith; a traditional Welsh tea bread also made using dried fruit. Like barmbrack, bara brith takes its name from the Welsh words for loaf and speckled.
Curious about other Irish breads? Check out this list of traditional Irish breads you need to taste!
For more Irish-inspired vegan recipes, check out this collection of Vegan St. Patrick's Day Recipes.
If you were to go into an Irish household at Halloween, you would likely see a loaf of Barmbrack, possibly decorated with animals or birds.
Barmbrack is part of an Irish fortune telling custom. Traditionally, six items are baked into the barmbrack, each item linked to fortunes. The six items are:
- A pea - indicates that the person would not marry that year.
- A stick - the person would have an unhappy marriage.
- A piece of cloth or rag - shows that the person will have bad luck with money.
- A coin (traditionally a sixpence) - indicates that the person will be wealthy.
- A ring - the person will get married that year.
- Finally, a bean - you are destined for a future without money.
How-to Make Gluten-Free Barmbrack
- To make gluten free barmbrack, you will need dried fruit that has been soaked in tea. Take mixed dried fruit of your choice (raisins are a good choice) and soak them in black tea for at least one hour, or overnight if possible.
- Next, combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl; gluten-free flour, salt, baking powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
- Now, make a flax egg. Combine 1 tbsp of flaxseed with 3 tbsp of warm water, stir, and let it sit for 10 minutes so that it thickens.
- Once the flax egg is ready, mix it into the soaked fruit, along with the vanilla. Then, pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well.
- Line a loaf tin with parchment paper, and then pour your barmbrack mixture into it. The mixture will be dense, so you might need to use a spoon to scoop it out.
- Smooth the top, and then bake at 375°F for 1 hour, or until the loaf is firm and golden. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, then the loaf is ready.
- Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing it - otherwise, the middle can be a bit soggy!
- Serve spread with butter or jam alongside a cup of tea or your favorite hot drink.
- Mixed dried fruit of choice - soaked in black tea.
- Gluten-free all purpose flour - use a mix with xathan gum, if possible.
- Salt - enhances all the flavors.
- Baking powder - helps the loaf rise and brown.
- Ground flaxseeds - used to make a flax egg; you can get these in larger grocery stores, health food stores, or online. If not vegan, you can use 1 regular egg in its place, if you would like.
- Coconut sugar - if you don’t have coconut sugar, you can use any other granulated sweetener you prefer.
- Vanilla extract - his serves a similar purpose to salt in savory recipes, bringing out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Do I need to soak the fruit for my barmbrack in tea?
Traditionally, the fruit for barmbrack is soaked in black tea, but you can use any kind of tea or even juice. I often make it with decaffeinated tea so my kiddos can enjoy it without any energetic after-effects.
How do you store barmbrack?
Barmbrack will keep for 3-4 days if you store it in an airtight container or wrapped in tin foil. After that, store it somewhere cool and dry for the best results.
More Delicious Gluten-Free Bread Recipes
Gluten-Free Barmbrack (Vegan)
- 1½ cups mixed dried fruit of choice we like raisins, dried tart cherries, goji berries and chopped apricots
- 1½ cups warm brewed black tea we like Darjeeling, Earl Grey or English Breakfast
- 2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend with xanthan gum preferably
- ½ cup coconut sugar or any granulated sugar of choice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or pink salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons warm water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a loaf tin (any size) with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add the dried fruit. Cover with the tea. All to sit and soak for at least one hour and up to overnight.
- In another large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Mix well and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of warm water to make a flax egg. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or until visibly thickened.
- Add the flax egg and vanilla extract to the soaked fruit mixture.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top with a wet spatula. Bake for 1 hour, or until the loaf is firm, golden and a toothpick inserted in the center pulls out clean.
- Let the loaf cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!