Rhubarb Barm Brack

Barm brack, a fruited loaf made with tea, is also known in Ireland as St. Brigid’s bread. This is a slight variation on the theme, because I have added a teaspoonful of baking soda to lift the whole wheat flour.


  • ¾ cup brown or granulated sugar
  • 2 cups currants or mixed dried fruit
  • cup chopped mixed candied peel
  • cups freshly made strong tea, cooled and strained if necessary
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp mixed apple-pie spice
  • 2 lb rhubarb, cut into 1-in pieces
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar


Put the brown or granulated sugar, dried fruit, and peel into a bowl and pour on the tea. Cover and leave to stand for at least 6 hours.

Add the beaten egg and softened butter to the fruit mixture and stir in. Add the flour, baking soda, and spice, and beat until smooth. Put into a greased and lined 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 1½ hours or until well risen and firm to the touch. Unmold onto a wire rack and cool.

Put the rhubarb into a non-metallic saucepan with the 1 teaspoon sugar and a small amount of water. (If you do not want to use sugar with the rhubarb, a piece of angelica stalk will remove tartness from the fruit.) Poach the rhubarb for just a few minutes, as you want to keep the pieces whole. Drain.

Pour the rhubarb over the tea bread (you could also pour the juice from the rhubarb over the top just before serving). Top with fresh cream, whipped if you prefer. As with all such breads, it can also be eaten spread liberally with butter.