With Halloween upon us, there’s lot’s to be excited about. We go half daft with the celebrations in this part of the world. To help you celebrate Irish style here are three delicious, easy to make, traditional Irish Halloween recipes.
The 3 recipes are for :
- Traditional Irish Barmbrack
- Soul Cakes
- Traditional Irish Colcannon
They’re all about simple flavours, quality ingredients and centuries of tradition.
TRADITIONAL IRISH BARMBRACK
“The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices and were ready to be handed round at tea.”
Nearly everyone in Ireland loves a barmbrack. When I was young we called it a barnbrack in my house. Its name in Irish is bairín breac, meaning ‘speckled loaf’. and it seems barmbrack and barnbrack are the same thing. It brings back lots of memories of fun, games, and excitement at Halloween.
The barmbrack wasn’t just a tasty loaf of bread. It could tell our fortunes.
Various objects were baked into the bread and if one of those objects was in your rich and buttered slice then your future was assured.
With great excitement, we gathered around the table to fill our tummies and connect with the future.
- A pea meant you wouldn’t marry that year.
- A small coin meant good fortune and that you would be rich.
- A piece of cloth signified rags and let you know that you were going to be poor or have other bad luck.
- A stick meant you would be involved in fights and disputes, or have an unhappy marriage.
- A ring meant that you would be wed within the year.
I was fortunate enough to be the chosen one of three daughters (at the time) and got married quite a few years. Maybe the fact that I was the eldest, did the baking, slicing and buttering had something to do with it.
For Irish Traditional Barmbrack Recipe, you’ll find it here.
Tip : You may add a small stick, pea, coin and piece of cloth, all wrapped in greaseproof paper.
The tradition of giving soul cakes was celebrated in Ireland and Britain during the Middle Ages and continued even into the last century in some areas.
The cakes were small and round, usually filled with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger or other sweet spices, raisins or currants, and before baking were topped with the mark of a cross to signify that these were alms. They were traditionally set out with glasses of wine on All Hallows’ Eve as an offering for the and on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day children would go “souling”, or ritually begging for cakes door to door instead of collecting piles of sweets or candy.
The Soul Cakes given to the children ensured the homeowner would be free from a curse or prank. The receivers of the cakes would offer prayers for them that would help them get into heaven and sing songs and say prayers for the dead. For each cake eaten, a soul would be freed from Purgatory.
For Soul Cakes Recipe Read Here
TRADITIONAL IRISH COLCANNON
“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that our mothers used to make?”
Traditional Irish Song
It’s a tribute to this humble, well-loved dish and its place in Irish life to have a song written about it and sung in beautiful harmony by the Black Family…no instruments required.
Like the barmbrack, objects were added to the Colcannon mix and would tell the future for you should they land in your plate.
- A thimble meant you would be a spinster forever.
- A button decreed you would forever be a bachelor.
- A religious medal clearly meant you had a vocation in one of the religious orders.
- A ring meant you were going to be married in the near future.
An older tradition that we heard about but didn’t follow in my home was the oldest unmarried girl in the house to put the first spoonful and the last spoonful of Colcannon in a sock and hang it on the front door. The first man through that door was destined to be her husband.
Another custom was the oldest unmarried girl of the house to be blindfolded and sent out to the garden to pick the cabbage for the Colcannon. If she then found a ring in her Colcannon, she was sure to be wed within the year.
For Traditional Irish Colcannon Recipe Read Here
Tip : A large hollow or well is made in the centre in which a generous amount of butter is placed to melt. Whether served in individual bowls or from one large dish, the custom is to dip a spoonful of the mixture into the butter before eating it.
The Halloween Carnival in my hometown of Derry is absolutely huge and great fun. Thousands of people from the City, other parts of Ireland and other parts of the world converge on the banks of the River Foyle to enjoy the carnival atmosphere bouncing off the medieval walls.
Live music fills the air and the celebration finishes off with a spectacular fireworks display over the river.
All that’s left now is for me to wish you all a Happy Halloween!
Óiche Shamhna Shona Daoibh!
And finish with a wee photo of me on the Derry Walls earlier this year.
For some more great Halloween recipes check this out!