WINTER may have landed on us straight from summer, but the arrival of bracks in the shops brings a lovely autumnal glow.
Toasted brack slathered with butter is hard to beat, though my latest favourite has a few added vitamins and less calories! Peel and core a few cooking apples and cut into cubes. Place in a saucepan with a little sugar or honey and just enough water to cover the bottom – a tablespoon should be enough. Cover with a lid and allow the apples to steam for five minutes or until nearly a pulp. Use this to top the toasted brack slices – no need for butter.
I finish mine off with a little apple jelly. I use this mix hot or cold, so a large batch of apples can be cooked and kept for a few days.
For those who like to make bread, brack is not difficult to make at home. It’s a matter of adding some fruit and spices to a regular mix, and enriching it with a little butter.
Flavour and texture in a barm brack is a matter of personal preference. Strictly speaking a brack should have a fairly dry texture and not a lot of fruit, so we did not mark down those which had a low amount of fruit.
We looked for a texture that wasn’t papery dry and that had flavour in itself, like a good loaf of bread.
ABC Bakery, 670g €3.90
Weighing in at the heaviest of samples, this is a rich brack, satisfyingly laden with plump fruit, including lemon peel and cherries. With a hint of spices, the colour is dark and a nice, sticky glaze finishes it well. All tasters put this top of their list for its richness. Contains a spooky novelty ring. Available at their stall at Cork’s English Market and in Dunnes Stores.
Hassetts Bakery, 590g €4.95
This brack contains plenty of the fortune telling symbols – ring (marriage to happen this year), bean (poverty), pea (no marriage this year) and stick (arguments in marriage). A smooth light icing tops a sizeable brack and a moderate amount of fruit includes dried peel. Tasters liked the spiciness and especially the decent crust.
O’Sullivans Bakery, 650g €3.85
A moderate amount of fruit in this Kerry Brack includes peel in quite a moist bread which has a hint of vanilla, giving it a rich flavour. Tasters liked this extra touch. Available throughout Kerry in supermarkets and small grocers.
Tesco Finest, 454g €2.99
A decent amount of fruit gives this brack quite a moist texture and there is a gentle kick of ginger. A pleasant brack with good flavour.
Aldi Ballymore Crust, 454g 99c
With ring, this light brown coloured brack had a moderate amount of fruit and a little orange and lemon peel, but no spices. Quite dry in texture, but a pleasant brack for the price.
Old Mill, 400g €2.50
A light coloured brack and quite light too on fruit which includes mixed peel, so a traditionally dry style of brack liked better by tasters when toasted. Contains a ring.
Rankin, 470g €3.15
An appetising light sticky glaze tops a moderately fruited brack with no ring.
Flecked with tiny pieces of stem ginger, it’s tasty and quite moist. Made by Irwins bakery in Co Armagh.
Lidl Connell Bakery, 440g 99c
A light coloured brack, it’s quite light on fruit too and is a dry style of brack which is traditional, but not liked by tasters as much as other samples. Contains a ring.
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