According to my limited knowledge on the subject, barmbrack is technically supposed to be made with yeast. But who has time for all the kneading and proofing involved? Sometimes you want a loaf, and you want it fast.

So I was interested to try a quick bread version using baking powder and egg instead of yeast. This one I found by Irish foodwriter Donal Skehan also uses no added fat. No butter, no oil, just an egg. Skeptical?  I was.  But it’s really nice. The only catch is, you still have to soak the fruit overnight.

The measurements are in grams, as is usual for the UK and Ireland. I love to be a little crazy and weigh things out as if I was there, but as a North American I’m not totally opposed to the sacrilegious practice of the 1 g = 1 mL conversion. Converting weight to volume won’t be perfect, but I’ve given the approximate imperial measurements here, too.

Quick Barmbrack


  • 225 g plain flour (1 cup)
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 375 g packet of fruit mix (1 1/2 cups) *
  • 250 mL cold tea (1 cup)
  • 50 mL whiskey (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) **
  • 125g light brown sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice ***

Notes for ingredients:
* ”Mixed fruit” in the UK is typically a blend of different raisins, currants and about 10% candied citrus peel. The citrus peel I had bought for the last barmbrack recipe had gone bad (don’t be like me, freeze your fruits and nuts) so I used a blend of two different raisins, craisins, and chopped up dates. It’s what I had at the time.

** I was brave and tried it with whiskey, although I really don’t care for those kinds of flavours in my baking. It wasn’t overpowering, but my preference is to do without. You could substitute more cold tea, or orange juice.

*** ”Mixed spice” in the UK is mainly allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with mace, cloves, coriander and ginger in smaller amounts. You could make your own jar of it, here’s a recipe from BBC Food, or you could just use your favorite baking spices.




  1. The night before: steep tea and let cool. Pour over the dried fruit in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F and grease and line a quart-sized loaf tin.
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and mixed spice.
  4. Make a well and add the egg, mixing it in with a spoon.
  5. Add the liquid from the fruit mix a little at a time and mix with a spoon until combined. The original recipe says you may not need all the liquid, but I did in order to get everything wet.  It makes a thicker batter than I’m used to with other quick breads like banana or zuccini, but as long as everything is wet I think it’ll work for you.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly in the pan and then tip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


The original recipe says to cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 1-2 days, but we couldn’t wait. It is delightful warm from the oven with some butter on it. My family really enjoyed it, but I would have preferred it without the whiskey, and if you’re like me, see the ingredient notes for substitutes.

It is very moist and sweeter than the yeast bread version, and also great with tea. You really have to like dried fruit though; the ratio of bread to raisins is like 60:40.

Did you try it?  What did you think?


See the first barmbrack recipe for information on the Samhain folklore surrounding it.