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.
During my search for the perfect whoopee pie, I was sent this recipe by a reader of my blog, whose mother in law, Mrs Linda Daunt, has lived all her life in Maine, New England and is a fantastic cook. Mrs Daunt's special touch is to add buttermilk instead of regular milk, to give the pies a richer taste. The original recipe uses a marshmallow-type filling, but I prefer to stick with regular buttercream frostings.