Barmbrack (Irish Tea Bread)

Also known as báirín breac in Gaelic, this sweet loaf studded with dried fruit is equally good warm, room temp, or toasted.

  • Serves

    Makes 2 loaves

  • Cook

    1 hour 10 minutes


By Cúán Greene

Updated on March 9, 2022

Chef Cúán Greene’s grandmother Laillí grew up in Connemara, where she learned to bake this hearty tea bread, known as báirín breac in Gaelic. He says “breac” means speckled, appropriate as the loaf is studded with tea-infused currants and raisins. A “bairín” was originally a rectangular piece of wood placed in front of a horse-drawn cart's wheels as a brake, and it's also the shape of the rectangular loaf tin in which this bread is baked. While his grandmother would serve it with salted butter, Greene now slices the finished loaf into thick fingers and toasts them on a charcoal grill until smoky and caramelized, then smears each with a savory miso fudge and tops with sea urchin—a wild pivot from the way his grandmother served it. This recipe is based on one she taught him.


  • 2½ cups mixed dried fruit (such as golden raisins, currants, candied citrus peel)
  • 2 cups strongly brewed black tea (made with 3 tea bags)
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • Salted butter, softened, for serving (optional)


Step 1

In a medium bowl, mix together the dried fruit, tea, and brown sugar. Cover and set aside to soak at room temperature for 8–24 hours.

Step 2

Butter two 9- by 5-inch loaf tins, line each with parchment, and set aside. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 300°F.

Step 3

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs and the reserved fruit-and-tea mixture. Into a separate large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the egg-and-fruit mixture just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf tins.

Step 4

Bake until the bread is dark brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pans, then use the parchment lining to lift the loaves out and continue cooling on a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with salted butter.

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