Showing posts from October, 2013

Barnbrack or Barmbrack?

I was reared on Barnbrack. Or brack, for short. It's a fruity bread served at Hallowe'en in Ireland, cut in slices - always, in our house, by my sister Mary - and thickly buttered to conceal the whereabouts of a lucky ring baked in the loaf. Actually, the fact that Mary did the cutting and buttering may explain why, year after year, to groans of disappointment from the rest of us, when we sat down at teatime she always got the ring. But that's another story. The point is that we called it Barnbrack. Not Barmbrack. Now, barm  is the foam, or scum, that forms on the top of fermented alcoholic beverages and is used as a raising agent in bread. And it's perfectly true that a brack requires a raising agent. But it's name is Barnbrack, not Barmbrack. Besides, we always used yeast.    I first heard Barnbrack called Barmbrack in England, shortly after I arrived there in the 1970s. But it was clear that the English - though fine people in many respects - hadn