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.
My granddad Do used to keep me and my cousins entertained all summer long on his boat with fishing, crab races and stories about pirates, deep-sea treasure and the biggest fish he ever caught! He liked his food, but never cooked – on our summer adventures with him, we were always under strict orders to bring sandwiches! One day, I caught him sitting below deck slurping peaches in syrup from the tin, one of his favourite after-lunch treats, so this recipe is dedicated to him!