Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake, which I used to get in my school lunchbox around Halloween every year. Traditionally, a ring is baked into the cake, and there would be great excitement every year as to who would get the slice with the ring in it. I always like to think it was Barmbrack that inspired the writers of Father Ted to come up with the episode where Mrs. Doyle bakes a jumper into a cake! This recipe makes a really beautiful, moist loaf, packed with flavour from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which has sat overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness.
People panic a little bit about the measurements for cocktails, but it really is a case of making them to taste and remembering simple rules like one part alcohol to three part mixer for each person. Then just add the flavours! Get your hands on some fresh summer mint for these babies – it's one of the easiest herbs to grow, so just pick up a plant in the garden centre and pop it in a pot for fresh mint all summer long!
This tart is a real lifesaver; it uses solely kitchen staple ingredients and is very easy to assemble. It reminds me of the little tarts I used to make when I first started baking but is a bit more sophisticated and I love the addition of desiccated coconut, which goes well with the jam. You can use whatever jam you have in your store cupboard, all flavours work perfectly.
Boxty potato pancakes are a traditionally Irish recipe and they come with a great little rhyme that we were taught when growing up: ‘Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can’t bake boxty, sure you’ll never get a man.’ The traditional recipe varies from region to region, but they all use grated raw potato. This is the version that my family makes and they are great with a full Irish breakfast, or I also serve them with pan-fried mackerel and a light salad.
Angie looked after my dad when he was growing up, and when I first started going to school she used to walk me home and give me lunch, which was regularly Irish stew. Her Irish stew is legendary in the Skehan family, with my dad’s five siblings and my eleven cousins all having been brought up on it. Angie always knew how to feed an army of hungry mouths, so I hope this version of the recipe does hers justice!